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News & Views from the Education team

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Adobe & ConnectED Interview with Akilah Willery

As the Program Director of Instructional Technakilah3ology in the Aldine Independent School District in Texas, Akilah Willery sees herself as a listener, a facilitator and a uniter. A former high school teacher and technology specialist — as well one of the first recipients of a Master’s degree in instructional technology from the University of Houston — Akilah brings a special perspective to her work and emphasizes collaboration, innovation and creativity as top priorities. With a team of 74 technology specialists working in schools throughout her district, she’s always on the lookout for ways to support teachers’ and students’ innovative ideas with the right tools and resources.

When we spoke with Akilah, she shared her vision for her district and her efforts to bring creativity and eLearning tools to all Aldine schools.

Q: What inspired you to start a district-wide Adobe & ConnectED program?

A: In Texas, we’ve always had a big focus on accountability. Now we’re emerging from an era where everything was about numbers, and we’re redefining accountability to include a more holistic view of the child and what he or she needs to experience and attain. Our goal is to create a more collaborative and creative environment that allows both teachers and students to have a voice in defining the learning journey.

Adobe & ConnectED came along at the perfect time. It gives us an opportunity to offer great tools to kids and teachers so they can explore what they want to create. Instead of telling teachers what to do, I can give them a tool and they can tell me how they can use it as part of their curriculum. I also hope our kids will feel empowered to use these tools to create whatever they want, even without guidance directly from a teacher.

Q: What recommendations might you give to other district leaders considering Adobe & ConnectED?

A: Don’t pigeonhole the possibilities by only offering the software to the “creative” disciplines. Make it available to all and gather feedback from teachers to get a sense of what their content areas are demanding, and how you can help them use the new tools to fill in any gaps. Also, take advantage of the free training resources on the Adobe Education Exchange. Free software is great — but the training resources are what will help teachers understand how the software can fit their needs.

Q: What are other ways you’re promoting creativity and innovation in your district?

A: We’re in the process of trying many new things. For example, we’ve partnered with Code.org to integrate computer science tools into traditional curriculum at our K–6 campuses. Teachers are coming up with different ways to use the tools and they’re saying the program is a great way to promote problem-solving and critical thinking. We’ve also been doing some cross-curricular professional development by teaming up our visual arts and science teachers. Together, they’re developing ways visual arts can demonstrate principles of chemistry.

We’re also getting creative about teacher professional development. We offer face-to-face workshops and online webcasts on a variety of topics so teachers can tune in and discuss new instructional strategies. We also support teachers as they explore their own professional learning networks through social media. We give professional development hours for both participating in and hosting Twitter chats with other educators.

I think it’s important to note that teachers and iTechs throughout my district initiated all of these projects. Folks come to me with great ideas and I do my part to connect the dots to make them happen, and then support ongoing experimentation and iteration.

Q: What’s your greatest challenge in your role? How do you work to overcome that?

A: My biggest challenge is maintaining the shared vision. Aldine is a really big district with a large and varied team. Reshaping our district vision means we need to change our teaching practices, and that makes people both nervous and excited. And, as much as we’re asking teachers to step out the box, we’re expecting the same of our kids. We’re creating a culture that makes room for mistakes. We want kids to try and fail and try again until you they get the outcome they desire.

This is an open and ongoing conversation in our district. Previously, decisions were made from the top down. Now we’re reversing it and asking for feedback from our teachers and students. It’s a richer discussion when everyone has a voice. In five years, I think things are going to look really different.

 

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Find out more about the Aldine Independent School District  and the Technology and Curriculum Conference (TCCA)  in Aldine — the largest free technology conference in Texas. 
As part of President Obama’s ConnectED InitiativeAdobe is donating over $300 million in software and professional development services to schools across the United States. 
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Bravo, Burbank Elementary School!

Take a bow, Burbank. You deserve a big round of applause.

Beginning in fall 2014, the students and teachers at Burbank Elementary School in Hayward, CA, embarked on a new and ambitious program to integrate arts across the curriculum. It’s a natural fit for a school community whose mission includes cultivating and cherishing “an environment that supports the academic, social-emotional, creative and civic learning” of all students.

After studying the artwork of Pop artist Andy Warhol, fifth and sixth grade students made artwork inspired by his creations. Students were prompted to find images that represent contemporary pop culture, and then to use Adobe Photoshop Elements to create their own Warhol-inspired work. They learned how to manipulate various Photoshop Elements tools to crop, select, paint and fill select areas of their work with contrast colors.

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by Chloe, Grade 6

 

In another project, students used Photoshop Elements to create typographical portraits of people and characters they researched in class. Each student learned how to create brushes from words related to their subject matter. They found images of their subject matter and applied filters to convert the images to black-and-white. Then they isolated the black areas and replaced them with the new typographic brushes they’d created. The finished pieces are portraits constructed from typography.

by Maylin, Grade 5

by Maylin, Grade 5

These innovative art programs are the brainchild of Robert Hoang, who joined the Burbank team last year to teach visual arts to K–6 students, and to work with his colleagues to plan arts integration lessons. Hoang co-leads Burbank’s partnership with Turnaround Arts: California, a signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities that seeks to advance education in a select group of elementary and middle schools in the state. To support this work, Hoang secured a software donation from Adobe & ConnectED to help increase technological literacy for Burbank’s students by integrating digital media into the art curriculum.

Sixth grader shows actor Tim Robbins his project on Photoshop Elements as classmate works next to them during their visual arts class at Burbank Elementary School in Hayward, Calif., on Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.  (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

Sixth graders show actor Tim Robbins their projects in Photoshop Elements during their visual arts class. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group via San Jose Mercury News)

Adobe is a big fan of Burbank Elementary and Turnaround Arts, but we’re certainly not alone. Turnaround Arts matches each of its partner schools with a celebrity mentor. Earlier this year the students at Burbank enjoyed a visit from their mentor, the actor Tim Robbins.

The Burbank fan club also includes U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell, California Assemblymember Bill Quirk, Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday and several members of the Hayward Unified School Board. The group visited the school last week to gain a better understanding of Adobe’s public/private partnerships and get a first-hand look at the impact of the arts in the classroom. “The students and dedicated faculty at Burbank Elementary School have demonstrated the value of incorporating both the arts and technology into the classroom,” said Representative Swalwell. “Burbank Elementary students are developing creativity and technological skills that will empower them throughout their lives.”

“We are grateful to all the leaders who came out to support the teachers and students at Burbank, and we are honored to have the opportunity to partner with the dedicated professionals at Burbank and Turnaround Arts,” said Tacy Trowbridge, Adobe’s Worldwide Education Programs Group Manager. “Through partnerships like this, we can continue to support and encourage students to become confident digital creators and creative thinkers.”

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U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell talks with students about their projects.

Building on the success at Burbank, Adobe is expanding the ConnectED program in the Hayward Unified with the goal of getting free creativity and eLearning software and teacher training to all of the district’s Title I schools. If you know of a Title I school that could benefit from Adobe & ConnectED, please direct them to our website for more information.

Learn more about Burbank Elementary School, Adobe & ConnectED and Turnaround Arts.

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As part of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, Adobe is donating over $300 million in software and professional development services to schools across the United States. 

 

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Creating links between culture and technology at Connections Public Charter School

Student at Connections Public Charter School (CPCS) in Hilo, HI, are discovering creative ways to connect academics, culture and technology. Through a new afterschool program called Studio Shaka, students are using Adobe software to take ownership of their education through project-based learning. They can film, edit and produce short videos, design websites or social media sites and more. And all of the skills they learn contribute to their ability to succeed in technology-driven education and careers.

One student took pictures of Historic Downtown Hilo, edited and composed them using Adobe Photoshop Elements and created a website. He also used Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects to produce a stunning time-lapse video of the Hawaiian shoreline, scenery and night sky for his senior project. Motivated by his own success, he now helps other students in Studio Shaka use digital storytelling to bring meaning to the concepts they’re learning in school.

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Downtown Hilo, Hawaii website

CPCS serves a diverse K–12 student community. Many students are of mixed ancestry, with heritages as varied as Hawaiian, Tahitian and Native American. The value and influence of culture and ethnicity on student growth and development are essential components of teaching and learning at the school. As part of its commitment to helping students appreciate the value of their unique cultures, CPCS launched Studio Shaka through a partnership with the High Tech Youth Network (HTYN), a learning community focused on empowering young people in hard-to-reach and underserved communities throughout the Pacific.

“The strategic vision for Studio Shaka is to encourage members to think creatively, critically and strategically to make effective decisions, solve problems and achieve goals in their academic, personal and social lives,” says Thatcher. “Technology is a cornerstone of the program.” As Studio Shaka became more popular, Thatcher recognized the need to provide his students with more tools to help them reach their goals. He applied for a grant from Adobe & ConnectED and secured a lab set of Premiere Elements, Photoshop Elements, Adobe Presenter and Adobe Captivate.

Empowered with the right tools and opportunities to demonstrate their talents, Studio Shaka’s students are more motivated and proactive in guiding their own learning. “In a small community such as Hilo, youth run higher risks of losing interest and leaving school,” says Thatcher. “Students are eager to stay in school and participate in Studio Shaka, both because it’s a supportive ‘ohana,’ or family, and because they have a chance to use high-quality tools like Adobe creative software.”

Learn more about Connections Public Charter School

Apply for a grant from Adobe & ConnectED

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As part of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, Adobe is donating over $300 million in software and professional development services to schools across the United States. 

 

 

 

 

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Turning Free Tech Into New Opportunities in the Palm Beach County School District

April is here, and it’s not just tax season — it’s test season. Across the country, students and educators are focused on the often-debated standardized tests that increasingly drive decisions about curriculum planning and resource allocation.

“Much of our resources are tied to programs that will produce measurable changes in student achievement. That’s our reality, ” says Kim Cavanaugh, Technology Programs Specialist for the District of Palm Beach County in Florida. “This creates a critical gap in what we can offer students. Some of the knowledge and skills they need most to succeed in the future will never appear on a standardized test.”

Group Of Students Working At Computers In ClassroomCreative expression, visual communication, critical thinking and problem solving are among the essential skills that Cavanaugh believes are being missed in our rush to quantify student progress. However, through President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, Cavanaugh has found ways to create more opportunities for students and teachers to explore and practice these skills despite budget limitations. For example, nearly half of the Title I schools in his district have already taken advantage of the free creativity and eLearning software offered by Adobe. According to Cavanaugh, using Adobe software to create rather than just consume digital media has proven to be a great motivator for many students.

Cavanaugh has also been able to significantly expand the use of Prezi professional accounts through ConnectED. “Prezi allows students and teachers to think in a more holistic, human way with big ideas and small ideas that relate to each other.” Additionally, the district has been able to offer Autodesk’s 3D technologies to its high schools, allowing teachers to find new ways to use project-based learning and encourage design thinking.

To make programs like these successful, Cavanaugh starts by working with school leaders to make connections between the new technology and the issues that are most important to their teams. “In our district, aligning instruction to the Florida standards is always a primary goal, so I make sure to clarify how new programs tie back to the standards.” Once the programs are linked to the school’s priorities, it’s easier for teachers to commit their scarce prep time to learn the technology and integrate it into their lesson plans.

Cavanaugh recommends that districts offer a mix of professional development opportunities — like online/on-demand workshops and face-to-face trainings — and that they take advantage of resources from software companies like Adobe, such as those on the Adobe Education Exchange. The best training programs, according to Cavanaugh, provide actionable project examples that teachers can take back and immediately implement in their classrooms. “We have to keep in mind that when learning new technology, teachers become students, too. Scaffolding is just as important with adult learners to help build their confidence.”

As President Obama noted in his recent State of the Union address, “Millions of Americans are working at companies that didn’t exist 10–20 years ago” and “no one knows for certain what industries will generate the jobs of the future.” Cavanaugh hopes that providing access to industry-leading technology through programs like ConnectED will not only prepare students for the workforce of the future, but also inspire them to become the innovators and influencers that will shape the future.

About Kim Cavanaugh: Kim Cavanaugh is an Adobe Education Leader, teacher, author and instructional designer with more than 15 years of experience in the integration of digital design software across the K–12 curriculum. He leads the ConnectED programs in The District of Palm Beach County, one of the largest districts in the U.S. with 180,000 students and 100 Title I schools. Reach out to him to learn more about his work.

As part of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, Adobe is donating over $300 million in software and professional development services to schools across the United States. 

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Creativity Tools Put Dreams Within Reach for Middle School Students

IMG_0173Could cultivating creative passion be the key to keeping students motivated? That certainly seems to be the case at Tomlinson Middle School in Lawton, Oklahoma. “A lot of students here are at the age where they will drop out of school unless they find something they are excited about,” says Vanessa Perez, who teaches digital literacy, multimedia, and web design at Tomlinson.

In 2014, knowing that many of her students had big dreams of becoming graphic, video game, or web designers, Perez became determined to create a curriculum that challenged students to go beyond the basics of digital literacy. She also wanted to equip her classroom with tools that would both engage and inspire her students. Unable to afford these tools, she applied for free creativity software through Adobe and ConnectED and received a lab set of Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Premiere Elements, and Adobe Captivate.

So far, eighth graders have used Photoshop Elements for a “Design Your Own Species” project, in which they digitally combined images of several different animals into one. Perez plans to expand her curriculum with Premiere Elements. Each spring, students will create a video memorial about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

 Perez says her students’ confidence has soared since she brought Adobe software into the computer lab. “By having access to industry-standard software, students can discover what they really love to do and make their dreams more realistic and achievable.” says Perez.TMS Logo

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Powering Creativity, Confidence, and Potential

“Do you want to buy us new drums?” That’s what the very clever musicians and video storytellers at Lawrence County High School (LCHS) recently asked in the Zildjian “My Pit’s the Pits” video contest.

IMG_0228[5]LCHS, a school of 640 students in Moulton, Alabama, was one the first Title I schools to receive free creativity software from Adobe as part of President Obama’s ConnectED initiative. Shortly after receiving their software, LCHS students went to work using Adobe Premiere Elements to tell the story of a talented drum line in need of new instruments.

Students in Gina McCarley’s Multimedia Design class worked collaboratively with the band members on their digital storytelling project. They set a compilation of individual student assignments to music and other audio created by LCHS musicians. The result was a sophisticated video that wowed Zildjian and won the grand prize — $10,000 in new percussion equipment.

That wasn’t the only big win for the students, according to McCarley. “As a teacher in a Title I school, I can’t overstate how important it is to give students creative outlets,” she said. “With the software from Adobe and ConnectED, my students are discovering talents, learning new tools, enjoying class, and getting access to software we otherwise couldn’t afford. Gaining skills using Adobe software opens students’ eyes to new career possibilities and—even more important—gives them hope.”

Red DevilLooking to the future, McCarley plans to expand beyond video and introduce her students to the other tools LCHS received through the Adobe and ConnectED donation, including Adobe Photoshop ElementsAdobe CaptivateAdobe Presenter, and Adobe EchoSign. Next up is photo editing and stop-motion animation—topics of keen interest to McCarley’s students.

We can’t wait to see what the talented students at LCHS produce next!  Read more about Lawrence County High School.

 As part of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative, Adobe is donating over $300 million in software and professional development services to schools across the United States. 

More information and apply for a ConnectED grant from Adobe here.

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The White Houses ConnectED Initiative: How to Make Free Technology Work for Title I Schools

ConnectED-twitter_imgsaThis weekend at the National Title I Conference in Salt Lake City, we’ve assembled a panel of leaders from business and education to explore how private-sector companies can help schools make the most of free technology programs like the White House‘s ConnectED initiative. Given the quantity and quality of the technology and training being offered, ConnectED has the potential to have a tremendous impact in schools throughout the country. However, experience has taught us that free technology still has a cost for schools.

If you are attending the conference, please join us on Saturday, February 7 at 9:30 AM in Room 155. If you can’t be with us in person participate by tweeting your questions and comments using #CreateEDU. 

The panel includes: 

  • Kim Cavanaugh from the School District of Palm Beach County in Florida, a leading advocate for the use of creative software in the classroom and the champion of the district’s ConnectED-related work.
  • Justina Nixon-Saintil from the Verizon Foundation whose area of emphasis is on implementing Verizon’s shared success strategy within underserved areas in order to improve student academic achievement in STEM.
  • Colin Rogister from the US Department of Educationpanel moderator. Colin works on the ConnectED initiative and is on assignment on the White Houses National Economic Council.
  • Emily Simas from Adobe, leads the company’s $300 million commitment to the ConnectED initiative and works with the Adobe Education Team to inspire youth to express their creativity and build their skills for future success.
  • Ashley Whitlatch from Prezi, is a leader of successful global programs and partnerships, including the company’s $100 million investment in public education through ConnectED.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Creativity Can Change the World – Applications for the Adobe ConnectED Program Now Open!

Creativity by Marne Pool Willow Glen High School San Jose, California

Creativity by Marne Pool
Willow Glen High School
San Jose, CA

Adobe believes that creativity is essential for students, for teachers and for educational institutions. That is why we have committed over $300 million in software and professional development services to the White House’s ConnectED initiative. As part of this $2 billion+ effort from the private sector, Adobe will deliver creative tools and teacher professional development to schools across the United States – all with the goal of helping youth express their creativity and build their digital skills for future success.

Schools interested in applying should visit the Adobe ConnectED program page on the Adobe Education Exchange. You can also check out information on eligibility and the application process. If your school meets the requirements, apply today.

All teachers are invited to join the more than 138,000 creative educators who share ideas, learn from free professional development and find inspiration on the Adobe Education Exchange.

This ongoing effort is a continuation of Adobe’s longstanding commitment to education. We encourage schools to apply to help ensure ALL students have access to the tools they need to be successful. We will continue to share our progress and look forward to the results!

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