Dear Powhatan Families,
In order to understand the scope of work that Technology Education Teacher Nicole Miller does at Powhatan, you need a pair of roller skates to keep up with her! I have spent the last few weeks visiting Nicole’s classes from kindergarten to eighth grade, and innovative is certainly a word that I would use to describe her work with students.
Simply put – Nicole is everywhere and loving every minute of it. If you ask her how she thinks her job is going, she gets a sparkle in her eye and then answers – “I love it because I get to keep learning every day – in order to keep one step ahead of my students – and it is really fun!” She is rarely at her desk and if she is, she is doing research or looking for something to help a student or teacher with a technology project.
A former elementary and middle school math teacher, Nicole understands the pressures that integrating technology into a curriculum can put on teachers, so her goal is to ease that anxiety for her colleagues. She is willing to teach a lesson in any teacher’s classroom, work with a teacher on a project, or set it all up for the teacher to take the ball and run with it – no task is too small or large and all subjects can benefit from technology use. On the flip side, with a teaching background, she understands the importance of introducing technology to students as a tool; one to be used carefully, creatively, and efficiently. On both sides, her flexibility and “can-do” attitude opens the door of learning for both students and faculty alike.
During the weeks I visited Nicole’s classes, it was all about coding. At the younger grades, students were learning the basics of coding through card play with squares and arrows and Scratch, an on-line coding curriculum. As I moved up the grades, I saw students who were already creating games, video book reviews, and other animations. All ages were enjoying the process of learning and using this fun skill of coding, which is puzzle solving on the computer!! Nicole’s next step for technology education is that Powhatan will participate in the Hour of Code, which many schools around the world will be doing. She is using this international activity to officially launch Powhatan’s computer science program, which will build upon the skills she has already introduced to her students and further their ability to independently code. Next, she will be working with teachers to incorporate coding projects into a unit they are currently doing or a topic they are currently studying.
For Powhatan, Nicole’s work since her arrival in August is only the beginning, with coding as one part and a basic step in technology education. Once this foundational piece is in place, we will continue to develop a sequential technology program from grade to grade. All of this good work has been made possible because of the funding raised through our recent STEM campaign. Class sets of Chromebooks and new iPads along with Professional Development for our Technology Department set the stage for Nicole to inspire her students to continue to grow and try new things.
My plan is to loop back to Nicole at the end of the year – that is if I can keep up with her! There will be more of this innovation story to tell! Coding is only the beginning – I wonder what they will be doing in the spring? Grab your roller skates and stay tuned to find out!
Head of School
PS: Be sure to listen to the podcast as Nicole and I discuss some of the new initiatives on campus!