Author: Suzy Cox

Suzy Cox is an Associate Professor in the UVU School of Education, specializing in Educational Technology and Adolescent Psychology, and is the program coordinator for the UVU Master's degree program in Educational Technology. She is the Higher Education liaison on the UCET board.

The New Legislative Session

Today marks the beginning of the Utah legistlative session. I know everyone is super-excited about that, right? But perhaps we should be. 

It's easy to forget that the legislature works for us. We elected them, and they are, to some extent at least, beholden to us. So that means that a group of people who works for us is meeting today to start talking about our state's values and priorities, our future, our kids, ourselves. That's exciting! It's an opportunity for each of us to contact our employees/legislators to make our voices heard about what matters to us and what we think they should be focusing on. 

While we don't all agree on everything political, I think everyone involved with UCET certainly agrees that education should be the top priority for this legislative session. Tell your legislators! Tell them that every student in Utah matters, that every teacher in Utah deserves to do more with more rather than the amazing work they've been doing with less. Tell them that putting a device in every hand is one thing, but helping teachers and students learn to use those devices in meaningful and ethical ways is another, and that we need help from them to make all of this happen.

All of us have knowledge and experience that they need in order to make the best possible decision for our state. I hope that during this session our legislators will receive an unprecedented number of emails, letters, phone calls, and personal visits from their employers/constituents helping them to clearly see what matters to the people of Utah.

Using technology to celebrate culture

Day of the DeadOne of the beautiful things about our Digital Age is that we have the ability to easily explore and celebrate the amazing cultural diversity throughout the world. While we recognize this day as Halloween in the U.S., it is also the beginning of the Day of the Dead celebration in Mexico, Samhain in Ireland, and National Unity Day in India, among others

This is a great time for us to engage our students in learning about other cultures, and here are some great resources to get you started:

CultureGrams – which you can find in Pioneer Library through UEN

National Geographic Kids – click on a flag on their interactive world map

You might have your students preserve a story or tradition from their culture using Stupeflix or Soundtrap and share them with the class. They could also create infographics (using Canva or Piktochart) comparing and contrasting their own culture with one that they learn about online. These projects could start some great conversations about diversity in our community, and engage students in honoring and sharing their funds of knowledge.

Memorial Day

usa-1336898_640Though most of us are out of school for the summer, we should still take the time to learn and share resources about Memorial Day. This is an important day of remembrance that has been celebrated in some form since at least 1868. Read about the history of memorial day on the Smithsonian website.

Edutopia offers a list of great resources and ideas for learning about and commemorating Memorial Day in the classroom, and you could easily adapt these activities for your own use today.

Memorial Day is also the perfect time to reflect on personal and family memories. My favorite way to do that is to create digital stories, whether about family members who served in the military or about how we have created special memories of our own. What will you make today to help you capture important memories or to thank those who have given their lives in service to our country?


They’re capable of more than we think

On Tuesday night, my amazing grad students presented their final portfolios. I was so impressed with both the projects they had created and their philosophies regarding the use of educational technology to enhance teaching and learning.

Girl and Boy Coding at Escalante Elementary School Hour of Code
Girl and Boy Coding at Escalante Elementary School Hour of Code
One of my graduate students is a first grade teacher. She said that her students had never been scheduled for the computer lab or mobile carts, because those were for the older kids. She wanted to show her principal and the other teachers at her school that first graders could do great things with technology. For her Master's project, she created a unit on informational text that used technology to differentiate students' learning experiences. She was able to provide students with tiered readings, surveys to determine interests and resources that aligned with those interests, and opportunities to create final products – in this case, digital stories – that worked with students' levels of readiness and unique needs.

In the end, every single child met or exceeded the requirements of the rubric. How often can we say that? Some children typed and narrated their own digital stories, while others narrated them and the teacher helped type them. One child, a recent immigrant from Mexico, was able to complete his story in Spanish. But every single child read informational text, summarized it, wrote a script, found pictures to enhance their message, and told their story.

Her final conclusion? Children are capable of so much more than we think they are. One of the most beautiful things about educational technology is that it gives a voice to students who often aren't heard. It motivates children who seem to not care. It gives students confidence when they often doubt themselves. And it shows us, as adults, that they can do incredible things. 

So, while our students may not click the right button on the SAGE test in the next few weeks, how might they better tell us what they know through something they create? 

  • 1
  • 2
Utah Coalition for Educational Technology Copyright © 2014-2020