Wednesday, March 8, 2017

DIF Team in Action

The Digital Integration Facilitators of Moore County are a team of fully licensed, former classroom teachers, that now serve as the technology specialists in the schools.  Our number one goal is to keep Moore County Students and staff at the forefront of educational changes.

We work closely with teachers and instructional staff to develop curriculum materials and lessons that are engaging and appropriately integrate the digital tools available at each school. Throughout the day, DIFs model lessons for teachers in all content areas, thus providing job embedded staff development and support for teachers.  We can also be seen providing staff development and training in small grade level or content area meetings, large group conference settings, and via online modules for learning.  We are responsible for training teachers on things from how to integrate an app into their classroom, digital citizenship practices, to the North Carolina Technology Competencies for Educators. We often troubleshoot when a technology issue occurs in the middle of instruction, so learning is not disrupted. It is our job to know the digital tools out there and assist school personnel in finding the tool to fit their teaching and learning needs.  

DIFs are responsible for the green screens, robotics, game design, 3D printing, and other projects our local students come home talking about. Many of the robots, drones, competition boards, virtual reality gear, and other various tech tools used by the DIF team were acquired by the team members through grants we wrote ourselves.  

Similar to classroom teachers, our day does not end when the bell rings, as after school robotics coaches, we are teaching young students how to code, invent, and problem solve.  The elementary and middle school DIFs are doing this at two schools, so we are pulling double duty.  The robotics showcases in the spring are organized and run by the DIF team.  This year, Moore County Schools will host the first ever regional showcase for middle school and elementary students.  

Have you heard about a five year old talking about building a house out of toothpicks to protect a little pig from the wolf, or a solar oven made out of cardboard to make a s’more, or perhaps constructing a robotic kicker that can ‘bowl’? This past summer, we designed the STEM Engineering Thread, to introduce the engineering and design process to students. We designed both robotics and non-robotics lessons that are aligned to the curriculum for each grade level K-5. The team plans on extending this thread into middle grades this summer.  Currently, in middle school students are using code in math class to design their own video games and this year we had a middle school team make it all the way to state in their first year of competition with FTC robots. At the high school level, we have students competing and winning at the state level and placing 9th at the national level in a cyber security competition, in the second year of the program.  

The DIF team is very busy and we do much more than chromebooks or apps.  This past week, 10 of our 12 DIFs presented at the state technology conference, North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES).  We presented on topics and practices that are in place right here in our schools every day, something our team is very proud of.  

Currently, the DIF team is working on this summer’s STEM camp.  This aviation themed camp promises to bring STEM education to life and make it very relevant for students. This self sustained annual camp is planned and carried out by the DIF team as well.  

If you are curious about what we do, please check out the Digital Learning Showcase at West Pine Elementary next Thursday, March 16, from 6-7 pm.  See for yourself what is at stake in Moore County and the great work our team is doing.  

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