Le Grand teacher bridging agriculture and technology

August 10, 2010 at 9:39 am 2 comments

Local educator off to London to attend Google Teacher Academy.

One Le Grand High School teacher was recently rewarded by Google for trying to marry two seemingly unlikely bedfellows — agriculture and technology.

Today, Danny Silva, the high school’s regional occupation program agriculture teacher, will fly to London to be one of six presenters at the Google Teacher Academy at Google headquarters, a professional development program for K-12 educators emphasizing the use of technology in school.

“You’d think (agriculture and technology) have nothing in common, but there’s so much technology in agriculture now,” he said. “There’s computers in tractors, so technology plays a big role.”

Silva said he plans to discuss how he uses free technology in his classes, such as various Google applications.

“One example is Google documents. You could have two or three students working in collaboration on a project at the same time,” he said. “(Google calendar) can be used as a communication tool as well as an organizational tool.”

Google has been holding Teachers Academies since 2006, but this is the tech-giant’s first international program, Silva said.

Computer Using Educators (CUE), a California-based nonprofit dedicated to improving student achievement through technology, funded Silva’s trip to London. Roughly 52 teachers from various countries will attend the daylong event.

Mark Wagner, professional development coordinator for CUE, said typically 300 people apply for each academy and roughly 50 are selected to participate.

The Madera resident first heard about the program last year from other teachers. He sent off an application to Google that included a one-minute video comparing agriculture and technology.

“Agriculture is hands-on education, and sometimes that can be dirty,” Silva said. “That’s the same as technology, because sometimes technology can malfunction, but that’s when the real learning happens.”

In December, he was picked to attend the the Google Teachers Academy in Washington, D.C., with 51 other educators.

Afterward, he became a Google Certified Teacher, meaning he could make presentations at future Google Teachers Academies.

In addition to these academies, the 36-year-old has been promoting the use of technology in classrooms through his own blog, http://iteachag.com, and a podcast he co-produces with Andrew Schwab, the Internet technology director at Le Grand High School, http://smallschoolsbigtech.com.

Silva’s blog is a forum where he explores the technologies he uses in class, such as Twitter and Facebook.

“If I’m going to teach it, I should test it out,” he said.

Silva and his co-producer started the podcast two months ago as a way to share information about using technology in the classroom with other teachers and students.

Hopefully, he said, it will also inspire his students to start their own podcasts, something he plans to teach students this fall.

Another reason his blog and podcast are crucial is because his own classroom will go from desks to desktops this fall.

Roughly two-thirds of the students have computers at home, Silva said.

“For some of our students, this is one their only times using technology,” he said. “That’s why they should get used to using it at school.”

Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil.” Here is a clear-cut case of doing well by doing good — for a Merced County teacher.

Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or joppenheim@mercedsun-star.com

Read more: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2010/07/27/1508350/le-grand-teacher-bridging-agriculture.html?storylink=addthis#ixzz0wD5A4920
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