Staff Report August 17, 2018NewsComments Off on Eastlake, Montwood Receive TEA T-STEM Designation, Planning Year Approval for 2018-19
Eastlake and Montwood high schools have received the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (T-STEM) application planning year approval and designation, respectively, by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for the 2018-19 school year.
T-STEM Academies are rigorous secondary schools focusing on improving instruction and academic performance in science and mathematics-related subjects. They increase the number of students who study and enter STEM careers.
“We are excited to have been awarded the T-STEM designation and planning year approval at Montwood and Eastlake High School,” said Carmen Crosse, assistant superintendent of secondary education. “The innovative instruction and support our students will receive through these programs is another endless opportunity they can benefit from.”
This is the first year Eastlake High School receives the planning year approval for its computer science program. Eastlake’s computer science T-STEM Academy will engage in a year of planning with TEA-selected technical assistance providers to meet the design elements and requirements in the T-STEM blueprint.
Upon successful completion of the planning year, the school will be eligible to apply for the provisional designation in 2019-20.
“Receiving the T-STEM application planning year approval from TEA is truly an honor for our campus,” said Gilbert Martinez, principal at Eastlake High School. “We are very excited for students and teachers. Our computer science classes are a prime example of extending the most opportunities for all students in Socorro ISD as a T-STEM school.”
Montwood’s Synergi4 Academy has earned the designation since 2014.
“We are excited to continue providing our Synergi4 biomedical and engineering students with the great opportunities that come from being a TEA T-STEM designated campus,” said Carlos Guerra, Montwood principal. “We are happy to continue making Montwood High School and Team SISD the best place to be.”
T-STEM academies have access to professional development, receive technical assistance, and participate in the network of T-STEM Academies. Students can receive a high school diploma while earning college credit, they also can complete industry certifications and credentials.
T-STEM campuses are designated based on a rigorous designation process, according to the TEA website. Once a campus is designated, professional development and technical assistance are provided to designated T-STEM academies to serve as demonstration schools and learning labs.
Designated academies showcase innovative instruction methods which integrate technology and engineering into science and mathematics instruction.
“Thank you for Socorro ISD’s hard work and dedication in providing STEM opportunities for students so they may accelerate their learning and graduate from high school prepared for the post-secondary path of their choosing,” said Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, in a letter.
Just a few years back, if one wanted to be a published author, you had to write your novel, hire an agent and have that person shop your book around all of the publishers until you found one that agreed to print your book and distribute it to bookstores across the country. Then you would wait and hope someone bought it. It was a crapshoot.
A few years back, if you wanted to make a movie to be distributed, you would have to purchase or rent hundreds of thousands of dollars video and editing equipment. You would then, much like the author of a book, have to find an agent to shop your masterpiece around to studios., show it at film festivals, and hope someone found it interesting enough to distribute. It was a crapshoot.
A few years back, of you wanted to record a hit record, you would have rented time at a recording studio, which included all of the production staff, and recorded your masterpiece. You would then, much like the creator of a movie, have to find an agent to shop your masterpiece around to studios, go out to radio stations with your tapes, and hope someone found it interesting enough to play on their station. It was a crapshoot.
Just a few years back…
Today, if you wanted to create a full length movie, record an album, or write a novel and distribute them to a worldwide audience, you could do it from your laptop. Heck, you could theoretically do everyone of those things from your smartphone or tablet computer.
Those things that were once were in the provenance of the elite and well connected are now in the domain of the everyday. That which was once was only written in the language of the chosen few are now in the vernacular.
Consider the full length movie “Tangerine,” shot in 2015 almost entirely on an iPhone 5s using an $8 app called Filmic Pro. Of course there were some post production and add ons such as a steadicam, but the point was that a small budget movie could now use a tool that people carry around in their pockets to create art. Indeed, Variety recently ran an article about 12 movies that were shot if not entirely, almost entirely using smartphones.
Dragonborne is a 90 second example of what one can do on a smartphone:
If movie making is not your thing, you have the ability to write and publish your own “Great American Novel” for free using programs such as Apple’s iBooks Author. You can write and publish, for free, any type of book you wish. (If you want to charge for your book there are a few extra, not expensive steps you need to take).
Indeed, the iBookstore is full of books published for free by little known authors. Free no longer means poor quality. The most famous book that started out as a “publish it yourself” is probably “Fifty Shades of Grey,” that started life as a freely published fan fiction for the Twilight series of books.
Anyone, anywhere can write a book and publish it for the world to read. The web is full of self published books in a cornucopia of topics.
In 1968 the Beatles had at their disposal, an eight track track recording studio at Abbey Road. That technology, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars was cutting edge for the day.
Today, anyone with a modicum of interest or talent can access a free tool called “Garageband” on an iPhone or Macintosh and actually have far greater recording power, for free, than the Beatles.
Imagine that: You may, right this second, have more recording power in your pocket than John, Paul, George, and Ringo had in all of Abbey Road Studios. You certainly have more than Elvis had at Sun Records.
Recording acts as diverse as the Gorrillaz ,Grimes, and El Paso’s own Khalid all have used the recording power of the free Garageband app to make music. The web is full of stories of how artists can now afford the once unaffordable.
Movies, music and books are not the only creations that have been democratized with technology. Anyone can record, produce and distribute their own radio show as a podcast. Over the years, the popularity of podcasts has exploded, running the gamut in both quality and length. All have some interest to someone. Want to become the next Casey Kasim and countdown your own American Top 40 each week? Want to create a weekly “Grumpy Old Man Yelling at the Passing Clouds” show? There is very little that prevents you from doing that other than your own inhibition.
Technology has moved that which was previously almost impossible to the common man. Probably no other company in the world has done more to democratize the creation of content than Apple, which has been credited with being the first with creating devices and software that allowed anyone to create; Apple has, over the years developed and released:
The first mass produced laser printer that allowed anyone to print newspaper-like materials.
iMovie that made movie producing easy and fun.
Garageband which did the same for music and podcasts.
iBooks Author that allows anyone to create and publish, for free.
The list goes on and on. Apple likes to say that they make products that are at the corner of Liberal Arts and Technology. I like that approach. Computers should not be just about writing code, editing spreadsheets, and making Powerpoint presentations.
Recently Apple has promised to release an entire curriculum called “Everyone Can Create” which promises to help teachers show students how to become creators of content, not just consumers. Too often, teachers use computers to do the exact same thing that a pen or paper assignment could have done.
Having students create digital content not only is more interesting, it is also more engaging and research show that it can increase academic performance.
Occasionally, educators and the public will question the expenditure of funds on laptops or tablets for students, and if students are doing rote skills on digital devices, they are indeed a waste of money. However if students are allowed to create, to collaborate, to make content that just a few years ago would have been impossible to do without hundreds of thousands of dollars, then magic happens. When Technology and Humanities meet.
That is where the corner of Technology and Liberal Arts is located. And while it is still a crapshoot on whether or not anyone will like your product, that location, that special corner is where the magic of democratization of technology happens.
It is up to us to show our students the map to that corner.
Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback.
Staff Report May 1, 2018NewsComments Off on Gallery+Story: Borderplex Students ‘Get STEAMED,’ Win Big at STEAMx Competitions
Workforce Solutions Borderplex, in partnership with the STTE (Success Through Technology Education) Foundation, is proud to announce the winners of the 2018 STEAMx (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) Competitions.
To celebrate, ten dynamic borderland student teams were recognized at an inspirational awards ceremony to celebrate the winners of the STEAMx Competitions.
Of the event, organizers said, “STEAMx is a vibrant, high-impact 2-day event, specially developed to captivate and engage the Borderplex region’s youth, to increase their awareness of the opportunities that exist in STEAM-oriented education and careers. With this year’s theme of “Get STEAMED”, the goal was to capture Generation Y’s zeitgeist in this all-encompassing event that challenges students to take STEAM applications and apply them to innovative, real-word project-based competitions.”
The STEAMx Competitions challenged Borderplex students in a series of stimulating STEAM-oriented projects ranging from Smart Tiny House development to Coding to Traveling on Mars.
The honors were held on Tuesday, April 24, 2018, in conjunction with the 2018 STEAMx corporate sponsors, Workforce Solutions Borderplex and the STTE Foundation.
The following are the scholarships and competition winners:
STEAMx SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS ($1,000)
1. JOSE A. FLORES GOMEZ – Mission Early College HS
2. JOE R. FLORES – Presidio HS
3. MIGUEL GARCIA – Mission Early College HS
4. BIANCA ALONDRA PAYAN – El Paso HS
5. RICARDO RAMIREZ – Eastwood HS
6. IVYE BLYTHE ARIOJA DOLINO – Presidio HS
7. ALEJANDRA LOPEZ – Mission Early College HS
8. CRYSTAL LICON – Eastwood HS
9. JULIAHNA HAYES – Pebble Hills HS
10. DANIEL CARRILLO – Presidio HS
11. CHRISTOPHER YANEZ – Valle Verde Early College HS
12. DIEGO G. MALDONADO – Valle Verde Early College HS
The STEAMx scholarships were sponsored by El Paso Electric with a $10,000 donation, and by El Paso Community College, with a $2,000 donation.
Smart Tiny House sponsored by AT&T
• First Place $4000 – Riverside and Eastlake High Schools
• Second Place $1000 – Team Woods El Paso High and Burges High
App Design sponsored by Workforce Solutions Borderplex
• First Place $1,500- Harmony Student Assistant App
• Second Place $500 – Brown Bag
Applied Tech sponsored by UTEP Academic Technologies
• First Place $1250 – Eastwood HS
• Second Place $750 -Presidio HS
Architecture Traveling on Mars sponsored by Texas Tech College of Architecture
• First Place $1500 -The Orcus
• Second Place $500 -Northwest Early College HS
3D sponsored by Hunt Family Foundation
• First Place $1500 -Northwest Early College HS
• Second Place $500 – AEA El Dorado
Makerspace sponsored by FabLab El Paso
• First Place $1250 – STEAM Fabens HS
• Second Place $750 – Harmony Science Academy
Business sponsored by CoWork Oasis
• First Place $2,000 -Geo Prizm Valle Verde High
• Second Place $500 -Del Valle High MBA
Java Coding sponsored by Sigma Pivot
• First Place, $1500 -Northwest Early College HS
• Second Place $500- Eastwood HS
Robotics sponsored by VEX $2,000
• Tournament Champions -Canutillo, Hanks and Socorro HS’s
• Eastwood HS – Excellence • Hanks HS – Skills
The Prudential Foundation – Math Challenge
Middle School Math Counts
• First Place $2000 -Mathletes from Marfa Middle School
• Second Place $1000 -Team-Team from St. Marks School
High School Math Challenge
First Place $2500 – Pebble Hills High School (PMC003)
• Second Place $1000 – Pebble Hills High School (PMC002)
Tim Holt April 4, 2018OpinionComments Off on Op-Ed: Expectation Of Use: Isn’t Just About Devices, It’s Getting Educators To Use Them Properly
Anyone watching the education technology news this week probably heard that Apple had an “Education Event” in Chicago, where the company rolled out their vision of education for the future. (You can watch the event here).
Along with the shiny new products, the tone of the event is what struck me most: Apple looks to creativity and the ability to be creative as the future of education and hence the workplace. Others, including Google with their inexpensive Chromebooks look to productivity as the future of education.
It is quite a contrast, and a debate that won’t be settled soon.
Personally, I am all for the creativity side of the house, where Technology and Humanities intersect, having been a teacher for gifted students and an acolyte to Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind” idea that creative, problem solving employees will be more important in the future workforce than those that just can recite facts and compute figures.
You can see Apple’s view here in this short video:
which harkens back to the iconic “Crazy Ones” commercial, where those that are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.
But what struck me also during the event was not so much the new iPads, or the tools, or the philosophy. I kept going back to the school itself. It does not matter what tools are being purchased by schools and districts, if the tools are not being used. There has to be an expectation of use for the devices.
Every school or district that purchases equipment has an associated unwritten expectation of use. If a copy machine is purchased and placed in the teacher’s workroom, there is an expectation that there are going to be copies made on it. If books are purchased and placed in the school library, there is an unwritten expectation of use that the books will be checked out and read.
Same for texts, football uniforms, desks and pretty much anything that a district might want to purchase. In fact, it would be unusual to not have an expectation of use, otherwise, why purchase them?
However, for education technology, there seems to be a different dynamic in play. It is not unusual for one to walk into schools across the country where district 1:1 initiatives are taking place (where each student is checked out a laptop or tablet to keep like a textbook) and find students that are not bringing their devices to school, left them in their lockers or cars, are using their smartphones to do academic work instead, or simply are not using technology at all.
Teachers and students using alternatives to purchased district equipment or software are also common. One wonders what other organization would allow that kind of mindset where company purchased materials are disregarded in favor of random “other” materials.
Imagine an FAA flight controller wanting to use her cool flight tracking app to control arriving airplanes because she “just likes it more” than that old air traffic control software. Surely a UPS driver that decides his Dodge Caravan would make a better delivery van than the company one because he was “more familiar with it” would quickly find himself looking for employment elsewhere.
Imagine your dental hygienist deciding that the tools she had purchased on eBay at a bargain were better to clean your teeth than the ones provided by the dentist that hired her.
One would think, that at the very least, the minimal expectation of use would be that students would bring their devices to class every day, whether they are used or not, just like a notebook, a text, or a pen, yet, for some reason, that connection, that expectation is lacking in many cases.
Teachers should have a minimal expectation to use the tools provided by the district. If there are additions that teachers feel should be included, then so be it. But at least start with what is being provided.
I recently asked a high school student how often she is expected to use her district-issued laptop. Her answer was “Our teachers told us we could use our smartphones if we wanted to.” Expectation of use = 0.
An assistant principal I was speaking to recently told me that her students “Do all their work on smartphones, so we don’t ask them to bring their laptops to class if they don’t want to.” Expectation of use = 0.
That unwritten expectation of use, implied in almost everything else, is nowhere to be seen for some reason with ed tech, be it educator unfamiliarity with technology, simply ignoring the benefits and training, or tradition.
Unlike the copier, textbooks, or the football field, the purchased educational technology expectation of use is, in many cases, left up to the student, not the teacher or the campus. Like water, the student will take the path of least resistance, and defer to not bring their devices to class.
Some districts do a better job than others of having written expectations of classroom use of technology. Wichita Falls ISD has a written expectation of use that spell out for teachers and administrators what they are expected to do on a weekly basis with the classroom technology provided. The “Mindset” section of the document states “Teachers should support the District’s mission and vision regarding the use of technology in the classroom.”
The document then goes on to specifically explain how that support is demonstrated.
Districts hold responsibility when instructional technology is not used as planned. Deep professional development that is tied directly to how the devices should be used in the classroom needs to be provided and repeated. District leaders must expect campus leaders to put into place expectations of use that are enforceable, not merely suggestions that happen during annual appraisals.
Digital tools should never be dumped only a classroom or campus with some kind of wishful thinking that the tools will magically be used.
Hope is not a strategy.
As Leslie Wilson from the 1:1 Institute said:
“”There’s nothing transformative about every kid having an technology unless you’re able to reach higher-order teaching and learning. If schools take all this technology, and use it like a textbook, or just have teachers show PowerPoint [presentations] or use drill-and-kill software, they might as well not even have it.”
Schools can purchase the latest best set of technology tools anywhere or the cheapest lowest end ones, but if there is no expectation that the tools will be used in the classroom, it really doesn’t matter. Each campus must set a high expectation of use, using the tools for much more than simple electronic replacement for pen and paper assignments, otherwise we are just throwing our money away.
Author: Tim Holt is an educator and writer, with over 33 years experience in education and opines on education-related topics here and on his own award-winning blog: HoltThink. He values your feedback. Feel free to leave a comment. Read his previous columns here.
Staff Report October 31, 2017Local NewsComments Off on EPCC Represented at the 29th Annual HENAAC Great Minds in STEM
Eight students from El Paso Community College (EPCC) and The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) attended the 29th Annual Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC) Great Minds in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) (GMiS), that took place in Pasadena, California earlier this month.
“I am proud to educate the future ethical hackers from society.” Dr. Christian Servin, EPCC Instructor of Informational Technology Systems, said. “Training these young minds in developing computational thinking through cybersecurity concepts and witness their success, make me proud to teach in an accessible community environment.”
EPCC students who currently are recipients of the Computer Science S-STEM Scholarship (through a unique partnership between Computer Science program at EPCC and the Computer Science department at UTEP) and students who developed research under the supervision of Dr. Servin, attended to the conference and presented a poster presentation with the results of the research.
Students who attended the conferences were able to participate in a Hackathon with more than 110 students from different universities and community colleges.
The Hackathon was composed of preliminaries workshops including concepts in cybersecurity, operating system environment setups and tools tutorials.
In addition, students attended developmental workshops that aid students in increasing their communication skills and resume writing.
As part of the conference students met with current Google, Microsoft, Shell, Intel, Locked Martin, NASA and other companies. EPCC is committed to preparing students to be competitive in workforce locally and nationally.
Staff Report September 22, 2017Local NewsComments Off on El Paso Community College Reports STEM Education Scholarship Success
El Paso Community College (EPCC), is proud to announce the success of the Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) Program.
“We are proud to share with all of you that our S-STEM Program was able to exceed its original goal to provide educational opportunities to economically and culturally diverse students,” said Dr. Fariba Ansari, Physics Instructor at EPCC. “In a six-year period length and under a friendly environment, our team of professionals was able to reach out students who took advantage of the opportunities offered.”
Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) since fall of 2011 and has been supporting students’ financial and educational needs.
The first S-STEM scholarship under the title of “Science and Mathematics Success Program” began in August 2011 in the amount of $596,546, by the NSF who sought to give EPCC a fresh start with quality scholarship.
Thanks to the collaboration of participating faculty, counselors, grant office advisors and financial aid officers the program was able to serve a total of 79 students through activities promoting the STEM fields and through financial support.
The S-STEM Program is a collaborative project between EPCC, UTEP and NMSU which helps students stay on track to achieve maximum education.
For more information, visit the S-STEM web page, contact Dr. Fariba Ansari at email@example.com or call (915) 831-2627.