District Dedicates More Tech to Teaching

By Anthony Saude

Chino Hills-Technology in the classroom may be teach, inspire, and engage students, but it can’t possibly replace teachers.

That was the point made at the Chino Valley school district’s second annual ChET Day (Chino Education Technology) seminar held on January 27 sponsored for and by district teachers.

Keynote speaker Mary Jo Madda spoke about how education can support the job skills needed for a successful future.

Ms. Madda works for Google in the same education department that provides free computer science education programs for Black, Hispanic and Latino students. Most jobs still require at least an understanding of the hard skills, like math for coding, accounting, finance and of course writing.

It is just as important for career growth that the soft skills are also nurtured, skills like problem solving, communication, collaboration, negotiation, persistence, organization and initiative. Ms. Madda also touched on a new concept in education, developing social capital like social relationships that have economic benefits is also important. Social capital for students could include their teachers, mentors and coaches. The one thing that artificial intelligence can’t do well is connect with the students on a human level.

All three of these skill areas will become increasingly important as robotics replaces old jobs and new jobs emerge that haven’t even been created yet.  STEM is great but we must keep English, music art and foreign language as part of our curriculum.

About 192 teachers and administrators attended the 4 hour CHet Day without pay. Technology trainer in the district, Kim James, says that most teachers want or need technology training but they just don’t have the time to get it. Three breakout sessions for about 60 teachers on computer basics and Excel101 were led by Amanda Arrey, a first grade teacher at Howard Cattle Elementary during the seminar.

With standards to Common Core always changing we have a lot of standards that we have to keep track of with our kids.

During the sessions the teachers were shown how to create folders, how to search and how to feel comfortable finding their way around a computer and excel spreadsheets.

Ms. James at 32 years old regularly trains teachers at her school on technology. She serves on the district’s Techsploration Committee with approximately 30 other administrators and teachers. The group attends conferences and meets monthly to discuss ways to incorporate technology into the classroom. The district employs four technology training specialists full time for the sole purpose of training teachers and to be available to answer any questions that may come up. Another responsibility they have is to hold teaching assemblies for students about internet safety and digital citizenship.

There was several vendors present introducing new technology, most impressive was ViewSonic who had a view board on display that will be placed in two classrooms as part of a pilot program this year. It has a 75 inch mobile screen with an interactive design that is activated by touch like an iPad. It is also equipped with Google voice command recognition as well. Just like its predecessor the “white board”, it can be written on and erased digitally. Bugs, trees, oceans and cells in are in 3D and seem to be alive.  Some of the major sponsors of the seminar like Microsoft donated raffle prizes and Schools Firs Credit Union made sure everybody had breakfast and snacks.