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November 26, 2011

Digital Aces – Middle School

by Randy Ziegenfuss

Photo Courtesy of Mrs. Jaindl

Digital Aces is a program that started with the 2009-10 school year, building the leadership capacity of students (grades 4-12) to promote creative technology use among their peers and teachers. Over the past two years, students learned about the Macintosh applications Keynote, Pages and Garage Band as well as the web applications Animoto, Glogster and Toon Doo. Students learned how to use an electronic portfolio tool called Student Jotter to share digital storytelling projects and educational computer games they created using Gamestar Mechanic.

During the first two year of Digital Aces, students in grades 9-12 served as lead presenters. High school students guided the younger students in acquiring technology knowledge and skills. The computer technicians, library media teachers and instructional coaches served as facilitators and worked with all Digital Aces to determine the best ways to share their knowledge with other students and teachers in their school.

Digital Aces will continue to function at the middle school and elementary schools this school year. Middle school students have met twice this year. Instructional Support Teacher, Mrs. Lynn Fuini-Hetten, and Library Media Teacher, Mrs. Barbara Jaindl, facilitated the learning and sharing. At the most recent meeting of the middle school Digital Aces, students developed their own learning agenda, sharing what they have learned about their laptops during the first marking period. Students have become experts with keyboard shortcuts, using Spotlight and track pad gestures. With students having their own personal computers, they now have more passwords and logins to manage. Students shared how they are tracking passwords using Falcon Apps, Pages and dashboard widgets.  The session concluded with students learning how one of the Digital Aces used Geek Tool 3.0 to customize his laptop computer desktop. Another student (who is clearly an iMovie expert!) demonstrated how to utilize more advanced features of iMovie. Students then had time to explore the topics that most interested them for the remainder of the 2-hour session.

The best part… Digital Aces, selected yearly by classroom teachers, commit to sharing what they’ve learned with their peers and teachers. Here are some ideas students shared on a Falcon Apps document.

  • I will teach some friends how to use more advanced iMovie features. I will show it to Mrs. Prokesch and ask to teach the class.
  • I will share with my friends how to use the iMovie features, and I will show my teachers how to use it, too. I will also show my teachers and friends how to use Geek Tool and how to customize their Mac, including changing the desktop icons.
  • I will share how to personalize folders and use iMovie tricks with my friends, classmates, and teachers (Mrs. Basile and Mr. Sawicki) as ideas for projects in Flex period. Right now, we are learning about storms so we could make a video about storms and share it with both classes.
  • I will show my friends and teachers how to change folder colors/pictures.  In my opinion, organizing folders with pictures is much easier because you just have to look at the picture.  The picture/color coordination is really helpful for people that have organization issues.

TL2014 is designed to bring our schools into the 21st century, best preparing our students and staff to function as citizens and workers in an information age. Digital Aces is one way we are working to scale our efforts while engaging our students in this important work.

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