2015 Showcase of Innovative Learning — You say you want a revolution

You say you want a revolution
“I have eight programmers who work for me,” a smiling Jim Hurley said as he talked with the assembled students. “Four women and four men. And let me tell you,” he concluded, his voice brimming with excitement, “It is obvious from the energy and enthusiasm they bring to work every day that they love what they do. So keep at it. Keep learning, keep improving, and keep doing great work!”
Hurley, CEO of Santa Barbara-based education company Lesson Planet, wasn’t speaking to an upper-level computer science class at UCSB. He was addressing the attentive, bright-eyed third grade students of Heather Cash, teacher at Brandon Elementary in the Goleta Union School District.
Cash was one of eight Santa Barbara County teachers who, with several of their students, gave engaging presentations at the 2015 Showcase of Innovative Learning, held at the Santa Barbara County Education Office Auditorium on May 6. Hurley’s Lesson Planet was one of the leading local technology company sponsors of the event. He, along with Matt Zuchowicz, Director of Education Technology Services for the Santa Barbara County Education Office, visited several of the schools that had participated in the Showcase to applaud the efforts of those students and teachers.
“At this point it is almost passé to say that technology is revolutionizing the education experience for school kids,” Zuchowicz says. “But the fact is, it’s true. And it’s especially gratifying when I get to connect local technology companies who are doing amazing things in the private sector with schools and teachers and students who are eager to push the ‘technology envelope’ in the classrooms.”
“It’s fun to watch that dynamic unfold,” Zuchowicz continues. “You really do get the sense that it is a mutually beneficial experience, for both the corporations and the students and educators. They feed off each other’s energy.”
That energy was clearly present when Hurley and Zuchowicz visited Russ Granger’s auto shop class at San Marcos High School. “Auto shop in high school for me was oil changes, mounting and balancing tires, and an occasional tune-up,” Granger says. “Auto shop for my students is using programs like SolidWorks and SketchUp to create 3D CAD designs for their Electric Motorcycle Project. They blog about their experiences in electric vehicle forums. They use Photoshop and Illustrator to design the graphics and logos. My students are constantly thinking critically and using technology to problem solve in a transportations-based environment.”
Clearly, this is not your father’s shop class. It’s not even your younger sibling’s classroom. Hurley, taking his smart phone from his pocket, reminded Cash’s third graders of the rapidly evolving state of technology. “This really is a super computer,” he marveled. “And by the time you guys are fifth graders, the technology inside these things will be twice as fast, twice as powerful.” Cash’s students, who use Google Sites to archive and curate the year’s accomplishments, as well as all those other students and teachers in Santa Barbara County making innovative use of technology, are, to use Cash’s term, “true digital natives.”
In addition to Granger and Cash, special thanks go to the following Santa Barbara County teachers who, with their students, gave presentations at the Showcase: Brian Malcheski (Open Alternative School, Santa Barbara Unified School District); Candice Grossi (Fillmore Elementary, Lompoc Unified School District); Paul Muhl (Santa Barbara High School, Santa Barbara Unified School District); Chris Parra (Ellwood School, Goleta Union School District); Sara Metz Outland (Miller Elementary, Santa Maria-Bonita School District); and Sharon Ybarra (Taylor Elementary, Santa Maria-Bonita School District).
To learn more about the Innovation Showcase, or about ways in which Santa Barbara County Schools are incorporating developing technology in their learning environments, contact Matt Zuchowicz, director of educational technology services, at 964-4710, ext. 5247.
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Kris Bergstrom; Matt Zuchowicz at 964-4710, ext. 5247

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