Animoto, symbaloo, scratch, spark and dash are terms that may not sound familiar to the average adult, but to elementary students in the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD), these are common tools used in their classrooms whenever they are learning with technology.

Thanks to the funding of a seven-year, voter-approved parcel tax in 2014, LVJUSD is able to support its youngest learners’ understanding of technology through the innovative work of the Utilizing New and Innovative Technologies in Education (UNITE) team. Composed of four Teachers on Special Assignment, the UNITE team coaches elementary teachers on integrating appropriate and innovative technology tools to support curriculum, assists with the planning of STEAM labs and makerspaces, and models how to educate students on the importance of responsible digital citizenship.

“Thanks to the UNITE team, our students are digital citizens who are as fluent in the use of technology as they are in reading, writing and speaking,” said Superintendent Kelly Bowers. “With the team’s training,

teachers have learned how to transform instruction to include online collaboration, research and production. Hands-on support by the team prepares students and staff to redefine education through the implementation of technology.”

Technology not only increases student engagement in the classroom, but it also expands critical thinking and problem-solving skills through creativity. At the Marylin Avenue Elementary School STEAMLab, students used MakeyMakey, a device that interfaces with a computer by connecting it to real everyday objects, to create a piano keyboard out of bananas. Students then played music from the computer by touching the bananas.

From kindergartners learning the fundamentals of a Chromebook, to second graders writing code for Dash robots and third graders creating online presentations using Adobe Spark and Animoto, the UNITE team provides an invaluable technological foundation for students to build on as they progress through their education.

“It’s been said that many of the jobs our young students will be applying for as adults will revolve around technology that has yet come to exist,” said UNITE team member Noah King. “Our team’s goal is to strengthen the adaptability of our students’ knowledge so they are well-prepared for our ever-evolving technological world. Increasing our students’ creation of educational content over their consumption of educational content is critical for preparing them for life in the 21st century.”