A Trip East… to Modesto!

almonds in modesto

I had the pleasure of spending Wednesday morning at Hart-Ransom School in the agricultural city of Modesto, California yesterday. Hart-Ransom is a K-8 school with approximately 800 students, surrounded by almond orchards and even a few horses.

I spent time with Adobe Education Leader Sara Martin. Sara has been involved in K8 education for over 20 years and is presently the technology coordinator for the Hart-Ransom School District. She is a treasure trove of Common Core, curriculum, lesson plans, and general educator resources. Check out her excellent website which has tons of great resources and lesson plans.

sara martins class inside

Sara graciously welcomed me into her 8th grade lessons on Premiere Elements. I saw her teach two introductory lessons where I had to hold back from powering up my laptop and working alongside them. If you haven’t been in a middle school classroom in a while, just remember what adolescence was like….  Sara’s kids were no exception: high-energy, curious, exceptionally social, searching for independent opportunities, and just plain funny. Put them in front of a computer with nifty technology and give them space to be creative, and they fly– some of the students were moving so fast, I could barely keep track of which filters and special effects there were adding to their films.

In addition to having a little walk down memory lane to when I was in middle school, I left Sara’s classroom thinking about a few things:

  • How crucial good technology access and instruction is for all students. I’d driven through Modesto a few times (on my way to Yosemite) but never got off the highway until yesterday. I was really struck by how agricultural and rural it is– despite being only 90 minutes from San Francisco. As Sara pointed out to me, “We’re in the country!” That might not be an easy place to be for pre-teens and teens who are curious about the world around them and eager to express themselves. How lucky Hart-Ransom students are to have Sara as a teacher and a solid technology program to take advantage of.
  • Common Core has been on every educators’ lips for awhile and now that it is a daily reality (in California), I am excited and optimistic about it. So many of the teachers I speak with are approaching their work with renewed vigor and enthusiasm since they’re finally able to leave behind test prep and spend more time on creativity; arts and technology integration; and deep and lasting learning. (In case there is any doubt, educators never went into their profession because they love giving tests!) Sara says it best on her website, “One of the things that inspires me most about the new direction in education, led by the new Common Core Standards, is the opportunity to advance education from the ground up. As teachers we now have the ability to set the direction of these new standards. We have the power to build our own curriculum and to share it with each other. Technology has given us a strong voice and amazing tools so that we can collectively harness all of our passion, experience and skills and share them with each other! No longer beholden to the publishing companies, we can make our own way, the way we know we need to, to positively impact our students and community. ” 

sara martin's classroom

Don’t be fooled by the modest exterior of Sara’s classroom– there is some serious technology learning going on inside!

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