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Students, Our Best Advocates

by Joe Rommel and Pam Shoemaker
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STS at the Captiol team with Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and MVU President Jamey Fitzpatrick

Each year, student teams and their teachers from around the state participate in the AT&T/MACUL/MVU Student Technology Showcase, an event held at the State of Michigan Capitol Building. This year’s Student Technology Showcase took place on December 7, representing 34 schools across Michigan.  It was an opportunity for teachers and students to present to lawmakers classroom technology projects designed and created by students at all levels of K-12 education.  

Through these demonstrations our lawmakers see the importance of technology integration into the classroom firsthand, hearing straight from students themselves.  The event was also a chance for teams to move about the rotunda of the Capitol to explore the work of teams from other districts.  These new connections helped students grow their digital literacy knowledge while discovering the possibilities of other technology integrations into school projects and curriculum.

For most students, this was their first experience meeting and speaking with the legislators that represent their community.  In doing so, they found out that it is not so scary to be a part of the political process. Students had the opportunity to practice speaking skills as they explained how they use technology to help them learn, resulting in an increase of confidence in speaking with adults; even if that adult happens to be Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan, who visited many tables during the showcase this year. 

Governor Rick Snyder at STS at the Capitol 2016
Governor Rick Snyder talking to a student team member from Warner Elementary. Photo by Dave Trumpie.

Sometimes students leave the Student Technology Showcase with unexpected experiences. For example, ​Sen. Marty Knollenberg paid special tribute to the team from Royal Oak Middle School by inviting them to the Senate floor!

The student projects were as varied as the regions of the state they represented.  The Hamilton High School team demonstrated their process to create infographics and many of their finished products.  An overall passion for robotics was evident from many schools:  from the elementary students coding with spheros and dash robots, to the high school students who shared the robot that competed in FIRST robotics competitions.  

Western Middle School students took this to an even deeper level.  They coded EV3 lego robots and used sensors to demonstrate possible car safety solutions.  This is the type of deeper learning that can happen when thoughtful technology integration collides with sound practice and student curiosity!

Western Middle School student team at the STS at the Capitol
Western Middle School student team with their display on how robots and sensors make cars safer.

We at MACUL hope that all Michigan educators will consider taking a team of students to future Student Showcase events. The structure is in place and the environment is perfect for educators and students to share their unique stories with state legislators regarding the importance of students having ongoing technology-enhanced learning experiences. Students are our best advocates!

Authors

(@jrommel): Educational Technology Consultant for the Berrien Regional Education Services Agency (RESA) in Berrien Springs, MI and MACUL Board Member.

">Pam Shoemaker (@shoemap): Technology Instructional Coach for the Walled Lake Consolidated School District in Walled Lake, MI and MACUL Board Member.

MACUL Advocacy

MACUL provides opportunities to advocate for policies and resources to support the effective use of technology to improve teaching, ignite learning and promote leadership.

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