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Thursday, October 6 • 4:00pm - 4:30pm
Smart Tech Use for Equity

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Which uses of technology in schools help create equity, and which don’t? Our answers may surprise you. Our educator-led initiative, called Smart Tech Use for Equity, is engaging a diverse group of K-12 teachers who teach San Diego’s low-income students of color. Our goal? Identify uses of technology in schools that promote student learning, development and success versus uses that don’t.

The project asks teachers to be equity designers, exploring the potential and limitations of tech for enabling student thinking, learning, voice and achievement. We’re asking a critical question about our classroom efforts: Does this use of tech help support the full human talent development of every student and all groups of students? Or not?

In 2015, each of 10 founding teachers explored one tech use with their students, documented the effects for students, and shared their learning with other teachers. Our action research/documentation process, supported by Educator Innovator and Teaching Tolerance, was featured on the cover of Teaching Tolerance magazine this January. This year, leaders are engaging school-based groups of colleagues in the same process. We’ve developed this template for testing, documenting and publicly sharing the “smartness” of specific tech uses with equity in mind:
1. What’s your equity vision for students in your classroom?
2. What tech use did you experiment with to see if it could help achieve that vision?
3. What did you do with your students to test that use of tech, and how did it go? (Show the pros and cons for students.)
4. What’s your conclusion about how “smart” that tech use was for achieving your equity vision?

The process supports teachers to test and publicly share tech uses for equity. Founding teachers tested whether Explain Everything and iMovie could support English learners to communicate their scientific thinking; whether TodaysMeet and Padlet might support middle school students in deeper dialogues about literature (one did, one didn’t); and whether videoing/viewing third graders’ math explanations using an Ipad might build students’ ability to explain math concepts, for example (https://sites.google.com/site/smarttech4equity/). This year, teachers are testing/documenting whether hands-on or online “labs” in middle school science deepen scientific understanding; what counts as “smart tech use” in a library context; and whether a graphing app opens up or shuts down students’ understanding of graphs, for example. Beyond “glitzy apps,” we’ve realized something counterintuitive: Often, equity might require the simplest uses of tech that get students to talk, write and create.  

We think we’re on to a process supporting teachers to pursue big dreams for their classrooms that go far beyond more tech use. A key to making equity visions a reality is debating and documenting whether tech uses actually support students’ learning, participation, and deep comprehension in schools. In our presentation, educator leaders of Smart Tech Use for Equity will share our process, inviting more teachers to join us as equity designers.


Jeri Aring

3rd Grade Teacher, Chula Vista Hills Elementary School
avatar for Alicia Johal

Alicia Johal

Middle School Robotics Teacher & Assistant Director of Center for Innovation, San Diego Jewish Academy
Alicia Johal is the assistant director for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Thinking at the San Diego Jewish Academy. She has been an educator for 9 years teaching 7th and 8th grade science, biotechnology and marine biology. She works to create opportunities on and off... Read More →

Thursday October 6, 2016 4:00pm - 4:30pm PDT
Emerald Bay B