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Previous generations of school age American tinkerers could curiously dissect their parents’ GE clock radio or attempt to change out the alternator on their fixer-upper used car. However, taking a look “under the hood” for this generation of budding scientists—and digital natives—means something else entirely. The trend, one we’re starting to witness first hand with the latest developments at SUNY Poly Tech and Nano Utica, has been the guiding principle behind New Hartford’s ‘rebooted’ DELTA program. Launched this fall, DELTA STEM and DELTA ELA take a two-pronged approach to helping elementary students bolster these sort of problem solving skills across the district. For DELTA STEM, teacher Mrs. Kathy Donovan (pictured below working with some of her students), there is a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math skills which are really meant as finding ways to inspire 'tinkerers' born a digital age. For starters, DELTA STEM students are invited to a multi-faceted learning community this that is one part computer coding, one part hands-on engineering collaborative, and one part philosophy class. The early results have been exceptional. “I have seen my students start to gain an appreciation for the technology they use in their day-to-day lives,” Donovan reports. “For example, as we have been working on puzzle sets in, students have taken the time to reflect on what sorts of algorithms they think could be required to run their favorite video game and apps.” The curriculum essentially challenges students to help pop culture icons like “Angry Birds” or “Plants vs. Zombies” solve increasingly complex problems using chunks of computer code which, once stacked together like so many Lego bricks, help the hero of the journey complete their task. In the process, students have been introduced to the basic principles of computer coding, as well as a basis in sequential problem solving strategies. “I see the WOW look in their eyes,” Donovan marvels, “and I believe it is a small step to help them realize that a computer is not magic, but instead a product of human innovation and invention.” Instructional Support Specialist Tina Klar is proud to celebrate the part that DELTA STEM will play in the district’s new foray into educational enrichment, but is keen to point out that the traditional, more foundational roles of literacy and student mindsets that DELTA ELA offers also play a critical role in the world of high tech. “The mission of the DELTA program has always been to provide engaging and challenging enrichment opportunities for students,” Klar notes, adding that “DELTA STEM and DELTA ELA each continue that tradition, with the focus on literacy still a core aspect of our educational mission here at New Hartford.” So what may strike DELTA observers—beyond the reading group collaboratives posting online book reviews to social learning site Edmodo, or the sight of elementary students busily engaged in a computer programming challenge on—is the focus given to the habits of mind that all of our students will hopefully rely on long after the Angry Birds fad passing completely. Donovan starts each class, in fact, with a brief lesson on various philosophies of success, with sources ranging from Carol Dweck and the luminaries highlighted in Walter Issacson’s latest book The Innovators. Though our DELTA program, students may be years away from becoming the next Steve Jobs, Donovan acknowledges the importance of enticing her students with a growth mindset, one in which students can instill their own sense of resilience while relying on one another. “I often remind my students that many of those “smart, successful people” they have all heard of have failed many times, but they were resilient, which was as much a part of their success as anything else.” If you are looking to adopt some of the DELTA techniques to be used in your own classroom to adopt a STEM mindset, contact the district Tech Team. They have lots of ideas on how STEM can be integrated into your own curriculum through the district's technology tools and resources thereby fostering creative thinking and tinkering across all district.


Although you may not have never noticed or wondered why there is a Description field for the items in your Spartan Drive list, this practically hidden field holds great potential for making it easier to find, organize, and even provide deeper context to your documents and files well beyond what you could imagine. Therefore is for this reason that is worth learning about and perhaps using more than you or your students have before

Locating and using the Description field in Spartan Drive is very easy. When you have an item selected, there is a wide variety of information about any item that can be seen using the Details pane to the right of your Documents list. If you don’t see the Details pane, just click the circled i icon that appear in the upper right of your Documents list to expand it. Once the Details pane is open, the Description field will listed for the document or file you have selected, (see example in screenshot below).

The beauty of using the Description field is that, in addition to the contents of the doc itself, any information you add here can be found when you use the search box in Google Docs! This offers huge possibilities for using simple keywords and tagging to find files much easier later on. For example, if your description contains the words “Spelling Words, Lesson 1” that file will show in your search results when you do a Google Docs search for “spelling” or “lesson” even if those words don’t appear in the document at all!

Descriptions also allow you to add clickable links. For example, if it’s important for you to reference an outside website about an item in your Drive and you can’t or don’t want to add to the link itself, simply copy and paste the URL into its Description field. When the Details pane is open, you’ll be able to click the link directly to open that webpage in your browser quickly. You can also make your descriptions stand out with formatting. For example, you can use underscores to italicize a word, such as _word_, asterisks can be used bold a word, such as *word*, and finally hyphens to strike-through a word, such as -word-. Finally and perhaps best of all, the Description field is a great way to share information about a shared doc or collection to all of your collaborators, or add reference notes about the item without it clutter up the document itself.

With so many added benefit for search, clickable links, and formatting, hopefully you can see how descriptions become a powerful tool for sharing information and managing your ever active and growing Spartan Drive!

Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers
iTunes Content for Your Classroom

Are you looking for a fun, simple web based tool to create graphic design projects for your own classroom? Want an easy to use tool that students can use to create? If so, look no further than Canva.
Canva is a free, simple graphic design web tool that is very user friendly and simple to use. Once you register via email, Canva offers up loads of templates that where you can create posters, presentations, and several kinds of social media graphics. Best of all, you even have others collaborate on editing a canvas with you. Finally, once you have competed your graphic, you can publish it many ways such as a link, image, a PDF or using social media. For an outstanding design tool that is well suited for education users of all levels, take a look at Canva today!
Visit Canva
How We Learn
Aspen Ideas Festival 2013

In this compelling media series, you can tune in to learn about the latest ideas and science about cognition, character, and neuroscience as well as the newest technologies and how they might change the very concepts of teaching and learning in the 21st century. These episodes offer a vivid look at research and mindsets that might revolutionize your own classroom in the near future. Take a look and you are see to find some ideas that are worth exploration with your own students in the near future.
Visit on iTunes
The New Hartford Tech Spotlight is a monthly informational e-mail newsletter published for all faculty and staff of the New Hartford Central School District by Mike Amante & Kathy Donovan. If you wish to contribute to or inquire about the newsletter, please visit here.
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