Heather Sanders is a Learning Technologies Specialist with Burleson Independent School District in Burleson, Texas. She encourages teachers in her district to use the Applied Digital Skills blended learning curriculum in their classes across grade levels and subject areas.
How are your teachers using Applied Digital Skills in their classrooms?
One of the teachers I trained, Kelli Justusson, taught the If-Then Adventure Stories lesson. Her AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) students loved it! She told me she hadn’t seen them get this worked up about something in a long time. The focus of her class is all about applying what you know to college, to the workplace, and beyond, so Applied Digital Skills complemented her classroom objectives perfectly.
The lessons give students some voice and some choice.
How does Applied Digital Skills fit with Burleson Independent School District’s instructional goals?
Applied Digital Skills gives students ownership. The lessons give students some voice and some choice. Structure and topics are built in, but teachers can plug Applied Digital Skills into any grade level or subject. In one class, students researched the technology of football helmets--a topic that relates to the real world and something the students are interested in. Also, the curriculum reinforces using all four Cs: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.
How do you encourage teachers to try the Applied Digital Skills curriculum?
I love coming up with creative ideas for how teachers can use this in their classes. For example, I would suggest that a world history teacher have students create a Guide to an Area about Africa.
I maintain a blog and use Google Slides presentations to let teachers know about new things to try, and often show up on campus and say “come see what I’m doing.” Because I work hard to build personal relationships with teachers, I can also say “I know you are going to love this!”
I tell teachers you can go through the lesson plan with the kids, and they can all learn this together.
What advice do you have for teachers who might be hesitant to use a technology-based curriculum?
I tell them that Applied Digital Skills gives you a framework, but you can plug in your own content. You can change the speed on the videos, or you can read the transcript--so it’s accessible for different learners. I also tell teachers that they can go through the lesson plan with the kids, and they can all learn this together.