Projects

November 2017
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About

MIriam I first discovered that I have an interest in education when I read Maria Montesssori’s Books about education. Fascinated with her methods,I decided to apply them on my children. As a computer programmer,I acquired a thorough knowledge of technology. Years later,I had a chance to combine technology and education,my two passions,when I stumbled upon Daniel Watt’s “Learning With Logo”book–a collection of Logo Programming problems for children. The books’vivid depiction of complex programming concepts described in a cartoon format immediately attracted my attention and motivated me to keep reading. As I started experimenting on my own with Logo programming,I fell in love.

Finally,students were afforded a tool that let them delve into the underlying concepts of math and geometry. This opened up opportunities of a new type of education in which students take charge of their own explorations. This experience greatly influenced my decision to pursue a new career in educational technology. To this day,I carry my enthusiasm for Logo programming to generations of my students,who never fail to be fascinated by it and the worlds it opens for them to explore.

My first plunge into educational technology was in 1993,when I became a computer teacher at Campbell Hall School in Studio City,CA. I taught computer programming and computer applications to students from 1st through 12th grades. The elementary grade levels created projects using LCSI’s MicroWorlds,a multimedia environment supported by Logo programming. The students in the junior-high and high schools created projects using tools that had multimedia and programming capabilities such as HyperCard and Macromedia’s Director. Typical projects would include multimedia,simulations,and game design;all reflecting topics that students learned in school. Students also explored information management concepts by using the FileMaker Pro database and learned to create digital art on the computer by using Painter–an advanced digital art tool.

Technology has since evolved,students have acquired access to limitless amounts of information on the internet,and new applications empower students to take control of their own learning and create their own computer-based products. Dreaming up a place where students could engage in these types of activities became my new goal. I founded Apollo’s Vision Computer Clubs in 2002 as an alternative type of learning environment for students inspired by one of the most influential articles on education I’d read,“The Learning Hub Manifest”(Seymour Papert and David Cavallo). The intent was to create an after school club similar to the one created in 1993 in south Boston by MIT. As it became clear that funding for the club was a major undertaking and it would have been difficult to continue as a one- person operation,I decided to dedicate my time to helping public schools in under-served¬† communities that were interested in establishing¬† technology-based after-school clubs on their premises. I started working with Napa Street Elementary in Northridge,CA in 2002 and helped them create beginner and advanced robotics classes that were held in the afternoons and on Saturdays. I also took charge of their GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program and introduced students to multimedia,animation,and simulations using LCSI’s MicroWorlds and Squeak’s E-Toys. These programs lasted four years and became a great success among students. In 2006,the program ended due to lack of funding.

As technology evolved from a passive user experience to one in which the user could actively participate in creating web-based content via web 2.0 applications,I was interested in following this new direction and incorporate it into my educational practice. In the last three years,I have used this knowledge to help Balboa Magnet Elementary School to use Web 2.0 technology in their curriculum. As the school’s technology specialist,I applied for and was granted 700 Google Apps accounts for the school’s students,faculty and staff. Each student,from 3rd through 5th grade,received a Google Apps account and access to a start page,e-mail,talk,documents,sites,calendar,and video. Students are using these tools to create projects with Google Sites,Presentations,Spreadsheets,and Documents. I built the school’s website using Google Sites and included a ‘Projects’section with links to students’projects categorized by grade level. In addition to Google Apps,the school also uses Google Earth,Maps,and Diigo. Student projects using these tools have been embedded in their websites. Web 2.0 technology has helped the school’s students easily collaborate with their peers and their teachers. This year we are enhancing this effort by helping 4th grade students create a blog focused on a health topic.

My vision for technology is built on the premise that understanding is the highest goal of learning. Thus,employing technology tools and strategies that can help enhance that goal and eventually produce a caliber of future employees workers who can make the United States globally competitive. To quote Ken Kay,president of the Partnership for the 21st Century:¬† “It has become apparent that there isn’t a lack of employees who are technically proficient,but a lack of employees who can adequately communicate,collaborate,innovate,and think critically.”(21st Century Skills,Education,and Competitiveness,2008)

I live in Los Angeles with my husband and have two grown children. In addition to technology,I enjoy painting using Corel’s Painter and an intense gym workout.

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