Students Collaborate on Supporting Bee Populations with Digital Tools
Each year, K-12 schools and districts that have leveraged technology to dramatically improve the educational experiences and achievements of their students are honored through SETDA’s Student Voices program. Mountain Heights Academy in Utah, the 2017 Student Voices Award winner, encourages students to participate in the instructional design process using an OER curriculum. In “Students Collaborate with Digital Tools to Support Bee Populations,” four students from Mountain Heights Academy explained how they work together and use technology to collaborate on their project, Operation Bee.
Operation Bee started because these four students wanted to address the problem of decreasing numbers of bees, but knew they couldn’t fix the problem on their own. They decided to make a difference over time by educating other students, and set out to build an entire curriculum consisting of teacher lesson plans, student lab manuals, a slide presentation, and a website. Through the activities in their curriculum, students “bee-come familiar with bees” by learning why bees are so crucial to the environment, how they can help the populations in their neighborhoods, and learn observation and data-collecting skills. So far, Operation Bee has been implemented in five schools across the state of Utah.
Because Mountain Heights Academy is an online public charter school, digital collaboration has been a must with Operation Bee. Although they aren’t in the classroom together, the students stay connected on their project leveraging tools like G Suite for Education or Blackboard Collaborate. Since the majority of their lessons and assignments are open educational resources (OER) they wanted to license their Operation Bee curriculum as OER. By creating something teachers can use in the classroom without worrying about copyright, they know this project will be ongoing over many years and also have a wider reach-both important factors in collecting the best data on bee populations.
After the presentation, the students shared the comments, “It’s an honor to be able to share with others around this country, along with this world, about how we are able to learn and teach so many things with this online school. I’ve had such a wonderful time with this amazing school and I hope to be able to give the same to others around the world, throughout this sharing process,” and, “It was a privilege to be able to inspire people across the world, as well as in the states. Super glad to have been able to come this far, and hopefully farther with Operation Bee.” They hope to be able to expand their Operation Bee mission as far as possible, and since they have licensed their curriculum as OER, the possibilities are endless for teachers to remix, revise and reuse it. You can learn more about Operation Bee here.
About the Presenters
DeLaina Tonks has been involved in education since 1991 and has been the director at Mountain Heights Academy, the top-rated digital school in Utah, since 2009. She also taught high school French and Spanish and worked as an instructional designer in Upper Arlington, Ohio for over a decade. She is a 2014 “Best of State – Principal” winner and was named as one of Utah Business’s “30 Women to Watch.” She is scheduled to graduate with a PhD in Instructional Psychology and Technology from Brigham Young University next year. She also holds a Master of Arts in Second Language Acquisition from the Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts in French and Spanish Teaching from BYU. She is passionate about leveraging technology’s promise to improve education.
Donna Trane is in 9th grade and she lives in Uintah Basin Utah, in a little town called Myton. She has attended Mountain Heights Academy for two years. She enjoys the flexible schedule because it allows her to focus on dance, singing, acting, violin, and riding horses. In 2016, she and her team placed second in the state in the e-cybermission science contest.
Kyana Trane is in 9th grade and lives in the Uintah Basin in Utah. She is currently in her second year at Mountain Heights and participates in a variety of extra-curricular activities such as dance, violin, singing, acting, drawing, and riding horses. In 2016, she and her team placed second in the state in the e-cybermission science contest.
Kate Larson, 14, is from Cedar Hills, Utah and has been attending Mountain Heights Academy for three years. She is a National Junior Honor Society member, the president of the STEM Club, and has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. In 2016, she and her team placed second in the state in the e-cybermission science contest.
Emma Davis, 14, lives in Sandy, UT, just south of Salt Lake City. She is currently in 9th grade and started at Mountain Heights Academy in 7th grade, partially because of her participation in a competitive swim team and a tramp and tumbling team. She likes Mountain Heights because it is more flexible for her schedule. She can do more with her time and can do it anywhere with WiFi.
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The State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit membership association launched by state education agency leaders in 2001 to serve, support and represent their emerging interests and needs with respect to the use of technology for teaching, learning, and school operations. Our current work is guided by a strategic plan, Leading, Inspiring and Empowering: The 2013-16 SETDA Strategic Plan, adopted by the SETDA Board of Directors in October 2012 after extensive consultation with the membership. The SETDA mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice.