This article was originally published in the Fall 2011 Harker Quarterly.
On June 15, Harker held its sixth annual Harker Teacher Institute to give educators around the Bay Area the chance to learn about how new instructional techniques and technologies can assist them in the classroom.
Various sessions were held at the upper school campus by Harker faculty and staff, who demonstrated the many different new technology tools available to teachers. In one session, Michael Schmidt, middle school computer science teacher, demonstrated Scratch, a new open-source programming language that is designed to make programming a fun and engaging activity for children and teenagers. Paul Vallerga, a teacher and designer in Harker’s performing arts department, showed how teachers could use Google SketchUp, a free 3-D modeling tool, for student art projects, demonstrations and more.
Other classes showed how already popular tools could be leveraged in new and very useful ways. Mark Gelineau and Rebecca Williams, middle school English teachers, held a session to show how teachers could greatly reduce the stress of grading papers by using macros in Microsoft Word. Wolfram|Alpha, as upper school math teacher Bradley Stoll demonstrated, could be used as a statistical research resource as well as a mathematics tool.
Other classes focused on effective teaching techniques, such as upperschool Spanish teacher Diana Moss’ session on how poetry can be integrated into all levels of Spanish classes. Susan Nace, upper school music teacher, held a session to help teachers relax and reconnect “what you do with who you are,” using the arts and spirited conversation as a means to rejuvenate their passion for teaching.
This year’s Teacher Institute was once again sponsored by Silicon Valley Computer Using Educators (SVCUE), the local chapter of Computer Using Educators, a nonprofit corporation that aims to use technology to improve student achievement. It was hosted by Harker and Dan Hudkins, instructional technology director, Fred Triefenbach, upper school assistant technology director, Lisa Diffenderfer, lower school assistant technology director and Angela Neff, former middle school assistant technology director.