Students share technology at showcase

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 4, 2017

 Fourth-graders from Stewart Gardiner’s class at Masonic Heights Elementary meet state Rep. Sarah Roberts at the showcase.

Fourth-graders from Stewart Gardiner’s class at Masonic Heights Elementary meet state Rep. Sarah Roberts at the showcase.

Photo provided by the AT&T/MACUL/MVU Student Technology Showcase


ST. CLAIR SHORES — The clack of the keyboard and the click of the mouse — even the quiet tapping on a tablet — are sounds heard more and more frequently in the classroom these days. 

Recently, local students got to show state lawmakers how they are using technology to further their education at the 16th annual AT&T/MACUL/MVU Student Technology Showcase. 

Students from Lake Shore Public Schools and Lakeview Public Schools participated in the showcase at the state Capitol building Dec. 7. Presented by the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning and underwritten by AT&T and Michigan Virtual University, the showcase allowed the students and teachers to learn from each other and teach lawmakers about how technology is influencing them in the classroom. 

In St. Clair Shores, students from Jefferson Middle School in Lakeview, and Lake Shore High School, Masonic Heights Elementary and Violet Elementary in Lake Shore, attended.

“This showcase highlights the best technology projects Michigan students have to offer,” said Mark Smith, executive director of MACUL, in a press release. “Giving students the opportunity to demonstrate their work for lawmakers represents the culmination of months of hard work and a lifetime of learning.”

Stewart Gardiner, a fourth-grade teacher at Masonic Heights Elementary, said that his students use technology to connect with other students. One of the projects they do is called “mystery classrooms,” where the students have to ask questions of another class in another city or state to learn where they are from. 

“It’s a cool way to make connections to classrooms throughout the country,” he said. 

The students also showed off “screencasting” and “Educreations,” where students connect to an online site to show mastery of a skill. 

“They record themselves teaching someone else to solve math problems (that) they’ve already mastered,” he said. “The big thing is reaching out to classrooms outside of the building to work on collaborating or shared knowledge.”

Only four students were able to attend from each class, so Gardiner said he even used technology — Google Hangouts — to connect with the students left behind so they could virtually experience the Capitol building.

“Technology is not going away, and they need to be able to use it for more than just a pen and pencil,” Gardiner said. 

Johnna Rhone, the art and graphic design teacher at Jefferson Middle School, said her students showed lawmakers what they are able to do on their own private websites, which are only accessible to those inside the district. 

“I think computers and graphic design, whether they know it or not, are integral in all (communication),” she said. “We don’t communicate these days without a computer.”

Lake Shore High School media production teacher Tami Blaszkowski said that she brought four senior high school students, along with one of the computers and cameras they use for three different levels of media classes at the school: introduction to media, media 1 and broadcast. 

“We take a whole bunch of examples of our work that they’ve created from three levels,”  she said. 

Blaszkowski said it’s a great opportunity for her students to come out of their shells and be able to discuss the work they’ve done with others.

“It’s career-technical education. It’s all about showing off what technology can do for your classroom, and we’re a little bit unique,” she said. “They have to think about an answer on the fly and talk about it.”

A few days before the students were at the Capitol, lawmakers had been discussing changing pensions for teachers, police and fire officials — ideas that were met with protests. 

“You wonder if, when they (lawmakers) walk around and see this (showcase), do they equate this (with school funding)?” Blaszkowski said. “We can’t make this happen on a shoestring (budget). You don’t get this kind of equipment or these things without support.”