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Thanks to your generous support, students at Briarhill Middle School are experiencing technology education in a new and exciting way.

From the beginning of Lewisville ISD’s 1:x program, which aimed to provide students with the right device at the right time and which put iPads in the hands of many LISD students, educators revamped their lessons to maximize the use and effectiveness of the new technology. Some teachers, though, went even farther, creating entirely new programs to truly exploit the capabilities of the machines made available through 1:x.

Carolyn Wiersema, winner of LISD’s 2015-2016 Innovator of the Year Award and teacher of Briarhill Middle School’s technology elective, did exactly that.

She applied for and was awarded a grant from LEF, giving her the ability to create a video based program that engages students in new learning opportunities that increase communication and community.

The program is called, “Bulldog Bytes,” and using the LEF-funded camera equipment along with the technology LISD provided, students work together with classmates and staff to create informative and educational videos for use by the school.

“Bulldog Bytes is collaboration at its best. Students not only collaborate with classmates, but also students that are not in the class, Drama students, Band students, etc.,” Wiersema explained. “This class, consisting of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, gives the opportunity for continued growth through the creation of content rich projects strengthened by the purchase of ‘state of the art’ digital camera equipment.”

BULLDOG BYTES Students produced a number of videos, including a community video produced by sixth-grade students in their first two weeks of middle school that was used for professional development at Briarhill.

“Not only did I learn about putting a project together from start to finish,” sixth-grade student Matthew Revilla said, “but I also got to see a diferent side of how teachers interact. In this role they interacted with students more like they do with each other. That meant we had to make sure we were prepared and earned that level of respect.”

They also produced a commercial used to advertise one of the other electives available at Briarhill, meaning students from Bulldog Bytes collaborated with another teacher and the students in her class.

“We learned a lot about working with people and coming to agreement,” Bulldog Bytes member Blake Smith explained.

Perhaps their biggest undertaking was their entry into the Verizon STEM challenge. They made a video to submit with their proposal. While they didn’t win the challenge, they certainly succeeded in learning a great deal about project management, STEM and working together.

“I learned about a wide variety of STEM careers on this project,” sixth-grade student Carson Fisher said. “But I also learned things that I will use for the rest of my school career, like how to plan something on a large scale and how to piece together the details and stay organized.”

Bulldog Bytes is so successful that district administrators visited the class to evaluate the feasibility of implementing it at other middle school campuses.

“I think the difference with this class compared to what you might see in other districts is our students are not using technology for the sake of using technology” Wiersema said. “We are using technology to impact students, staff, and community members by exposing them to new and relevant Web 2.0 tools, while at the same time teaching digital citizenship as relevant content is being spread via our finished products.”

Finished products that came about thanks to the generosity and commitment of you, our LEF friend and supporter.

Check out our Facebook page for all the photos.