Wild Cat Blog
The latest and greatest from the Weller community
This is my fifth year working in Loudoun County Public Schools. I grew up in Roanoke, VA and then attended UVA where I earned my Bachelors in Environmental Sciences and a Masters in Elementary Education. Very early on in my career, I realized a love of working with technology in the classroom because I saw the way it really unlocked some amazing opportunities for my students. And thus, I decided to pursue a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Designing Digital Learning in Schools. I completed that degree through George Mason University last year and I am thrilled to get to take on this role at such an amazing school like Weller! My role as Instructional Facilitator for Technology (IFT) is one in which I get to co-plan and co-teach with teachers to help facilitate lessons that have technology integrated into the curriculum that is already being taught so that it is more meaningful for students.
What motivated you to want to lead the Innovation Lab Project?
I had seen and heard of a few other schools transforming their traditional computer labs into a more innovative and collaborative space so I was intrigued. I've also seen research that indicates the importance of having a "dedicated" space outside of the regular classroom that serves as sort of a "hub" of innovation, creation, and collaboration. When I found out that we would be getting a technology refresh this year and losing all of our big desktop computers, I knew it was the perfect time for us to explore transforming our space.
How do you envision the Innovation Lab long-term?
My hope is that the Innovation Lab would be an ever-evolving and growing space that will be a catalyst for student-centered learning. I want to take feedback from teachers and students as we work to create this space together. What I DO know, is that I hope the Innovation Lab will always be a place where students are excited to visit and feel safe taking risks with something new as they engage in meaningful learning experiences.
When can students expect the Innovation Lab to be student ready this year?
The furniture we ordered through the generous grant from the Graduate Management Admission Council is expected to arrive sometime in mid-October. Once we have that and a few technology pieces, we will be ready to launch with students! I expect students to be able to visit the lab before the end of the first quarter.
Why should students and Parents be excited about the Innovation Lab?
Students should be excited because we will explore new technologies and have fun! Parents should be excited because the Innovation Lab will open up new opportunities for learning, specifically in the fields of computer science and coding! These are not only growing fields in our economy and society, but also provide valuable thinking skills that are beneficial for any learner.
Who do you think will get the most out of the innovation lab this year?
Of course, our focus is always student learning! So, the easy answer is that our students will get the most out of the Innovation Lab. But, I think the teachers will also enjoy visiting with their students.
What are the three items you want most for the lab?
Use of technology is a hot button issue right now, especially among younger children. Do you have any advice for parents trying to determine the right amount of technology for their children?
Great question! As much as I love technology, I absolutely understand the need for moderation. Although technology has opened up new opportunities for us, it has certainly created a more complicated world for us to live in. With this comes an incredible need for us to help our students and children learn the importance of balance. As we have these Digital Citizenship conversations in school, it is imperative that these conversations continue at home. Keeping our students safe is our top priority and we cannot do this without knowing what they are doing online. Every family has its own needs and lifestyle and, therefore, I do not think there is one correct answer for amount of technology use, but I think it ultimately comes down to balance. There are some really great resources for parents on Common Sense Media that you can find here: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/parent-concerns