Monday, January 26, 2015

Building a Student Tech Team

     One of the goals (from Bright Bytes survey data) for our districts this year was to build a student-driven technology team within our buildings.  Student tech teams lend themselves to some incredible learning and leadership opportunities for students of all ages.  As I've been working specifically with middle and high school students on this task, here are five pillars we wanted to put into place:

  1.  A purposeful Mission statement which attends to relevant needs and is built by the group.
  2. A chance for students to develop leadership skills through mini-lessons and conversations.
  3. Opportunities for students to belong to an "intervention" like group where they could extend their learning, but also get social support from a diverse group (insert "Cheers" theme song here).
  4. A Genius Hour/ Passion Project like environment where success is variable but "failing forward" and learning are constants.
  5. A chance to reflect, grow, and evolve ourselves and the tech team.

As I built this group, I also wanted to avoid these things:
  1. Making the group "just another thing" that students have to worry about.
  2. Grading things.
  3. An excuse to miss in-class learning; either because students are out of class or because students are neglecting their class duties while working on tech team things.
  4. A short term group dependent on one person for success.

    I built a Google Apps Ninja training site based on Jeff Utecht's Google Apps Ninja student training resources (he has graciously made those resources free for anyone under a Creative Commons license).  The Google Ninja Training site is a self-directed, quizzed website that allows students to learn about Google apps and begin applying their knowledge in class.  There are formative assessments built from a Google form that self-grades and lets me know when a quiz has been passed. Students also had to apply to be a part of the group, and a basic criteria was used to filter the applicants.  Teachers also had input into the makeup of the group.

    From there, I am also challenging students to address issues that are happening in our communities through technology and activism (like iPad school policies, student morning news webcasts, student depression, combating hunger, assistance with Chromebooks, etc.).  My groups so far are really excited to learn coding (from, and build apps.

    For a group of high school students, we created the STEAM team looking at STEAM initiatives and teaching lessons to elementary students.  I'm still trying to figure out the direction for this group, but they seem really motivated to work with our younger students on cool things like Lego League, Makey-Makey, Squishy Circuits, robots, raspberry pi, and

    Our Google Apps Ninja team has met a handful of times, and already they are excited and motivated to create with technology and help their school in many different ways.  I'll continue to post here the progress and projects we are working on.

    In the meantime, feel free to swing over to the Google Apps Ninja Training Dojo and try your hand at a few of the quizzes and training materials.  I'd be more than happy to send you a ninja badge when you complete a test!

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