Sunday, February 19, 2017

2017 SDCUE Innovative Educator Award

SDCUE is looking for that special educator... you know, the one who seeks out innovative ways to provide engaging and meaningful learning opportunities for his/her students; the one who can be found sharing ideas with a colleague down the hall; the one whose passion for teaching and learning is infectious to others.

Are YOU that person?

Then apply to become SDCUE's Innovative Educator of the Year!

The recipient receives a $1000 stipend for continuing the pursuit of innovation in education, as well as a 1-year membership to CUE.

The recipient will also receive a group registration for 5 people to attend the Annual SDCUE Tech Fair where the recipient is invited to lead a Featured Presentation Session.

The award will be presented at the 14th annual Innovation in Education Awards event on May 24, 2017 at Sea World.

Ready to apply? Here's what you need to do:

- Write a 200 word personal statement on how your classroom embodies the "Innnovator's Mindset" as explained by George Couros (  
- Create a short video, no longer than two minutes, that shows your innovative spirit. The video should show innovation in action; specific practices should be demonstrated, and not just described by the applicant or through testimonials.
- Submit a letter of recommendation from someone who sees the impact you have on students and learning.
- All are submitted via Google Form:

Submissions are due by March 3, 5PM.

** All applicants must be current members of SDCUE **

Friday, December 16, 2016

Animals & Habitats STREAM Project

Animals & Habitats STREAM Project

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” He understood the importance of engaging students in their learning. At Cardiff Elementary School we strive to engage students by inspiring a love of learning in them. Recently, our second grade digital age learners investigated the big idea that living things depend on their habitat to meet basic needs. Various hands-on, technology-rich, standards-based activities empowered students to own their learning throughout their grade level STREAM unit known as Animals & Habitats.
Collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity were embedded in this unit. These young budding scientists were divided into five groups and used internet webcams located across the globe to observe panda bears, elephants, gorillas, tigers and polar bears in their natural environments. Students made careful observations of their assigned animal. They recorded data regarding the animal’s habitat and behavior onto an organized table. Next, they demonstrated their computational thinking skills by analyzing the data, looking for patterns, and drawing conclusions about animal needs. Once students better understood and could empathize with their team’s assigned animal, they began gathering and discovering more details and information. Students researched and collaborated in teams using digital and print resources to deepen their understanding about their selected animals. Their research led to each student becoming a reporter and creating a digital newsletter that reflected their understanding. A labeled animal diagram and a double bar graph depicting all of the studied animals’ lifespans in the wild and in captivity was then represented in their published work.
The next challenge for students was to become designers and architects while building animal enclosures that would meet the basic needs of their team’s animal.  A fun and educational trip to the San Diego Zoo to gain field experience inspired students to inquire, observe and construct additional knowledge. Once back on campus, they became innovative designers by digitally drawing their enclosure plan and building an animal enclosure prototype that met the basic needs and provided enrichment opportunities for their team’s animal.
The highlight of this STREAM unit occurred when teams of students produced documentaries showcasing their in-depth knowledge and awareness of animal habitat needs. The green screen studio purchased with the SDCUE mini-grant funds combined with Touchcast turned ordinary students into artists, broadcasters, and filmmakers as each team produced an informative documentary about their animal and its habitat.  

All of this hard work will long be remembered by the students that participated because they were involved and engaged. At the end of the unit, a celebration of learning attended by parents, teachers and students provided these young life-long learners an audience and an opportunity to shine!


Deborah Heyer Bio

Deborah Heyer has been a teacher for the last twenty-five years and employed by school districts in Vista, California; Fairfax, Virginia; and currently in Cardiff, California. Traditionally a sixth-grade math and science teacher, she now serves as an Educational Technology Specialist. Deborah is passionate about empowering digital age learners and supporting teachers as they integrate technology in meaningful ways into the classroom. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Central Michigan University and a Masters of Science degree in Curriculum
and Instructional Leadership from National University. Additionally, she maintains a Digital Citizenship Certification from Common Sense Education and a Leading Edge Certification for Blended Learning. She’s a lifelong learner with a growth mindset that is committed to both students and teachers. You can follow her on Twitter @debheyer

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Virtual Reality with Google Expeditions!

“Students, today we’ll be traveling to the Colosseum at Rome. We’ll be taking a tour inside to see where the gladiators fought. Then later on we’ll take an underwater tour of the Great Barrier Reef.”

Does this sound like your classroom? Probably not. Sadly, field trips to places like Rome or Egypt aren’t feasible. But what if you could bring these amazing destinations to your classroom?

Through the use of a cell phone and a virtual reality viewer, trips such as these are possible. My San Diego CUE grant was for Android Phones and ViewMaster VR viewers. Through different apps such as Google Cardboard, Google StreetView, and Google Expeditions, students can take virtual reality “field trips” to almost anywhere, even outer space!

The phones and viewers are very easy to use. The phone runs the apps and is placed into the VR viewer. The virtual reality app takes an image and splits it into two images. The viewer combines these images back into one 3D image. The effect is that the user feels like they are in the picture.

There are many applications for this technology. Social Studies lends itself particularly well. For example, you can find many pictures of the Pyramid at Giza, but to feel like you are walking around it brings a new appreciation. In science, you can take underwater journeys or go to the International Space Station.

The newest VR app is Google Expeditions. With this app, the teacher runs a “field trip” to a destination. The app gives five or six pictures of a location with background information and questions for the teacher to use. The teacher controls the students’ journeys, so no one virtually wanders off to another location. The Expeditions app is also expanding to include contributions from publishers such as Houghton Mifflin and many museums. They are continually adding new locations.

Nearpod VR is an app that provides lessons centered around VR experiences. The teacher starts the slideshow lesson (or it can be assigned to do independently) and the app controls what is on the student screens. There are VR locations imbedded in the slideshow. There is some free content, but most lessons require a small fee.

One of the main benefits is that students can internalize their learning. As an example, students studying the causes of the French revolution can experience the opulence of French royalty in a more personal way. This leads to higher depth of knowledge questions.

The most exciting part of using this technology is the level of enthusiasm from the students. Students can’t wait to take a field trip. The “oohs and ahhs” make this technology worth every penny!

By Christy Hansen