When McKinley STEAM Academy principal Jason Martinez walked into the Downtown Library April 29, he saw about 20 of his students, using the computers and spending time in the Union, the library’s teen area, after school. Right behind them were another McKinley group – teachers.
They were here for a professional development collaboration between the library and the middle school. About 40 teachers from McKinley are spending three Friday afternoons learning about technology in the library’s Maker Space – 3D printers, green screen video technology, and Cricut cutting machines.
The school has the same technology, but not all of the teachers had much hands-on experience with it, or had used it in their curriculum. The collaboration is a chance for the teachers to get real-world experience with the technology and go home with ideas on using it in their classrooms.
“The library taking leadership in this area shows our dedication to digital equity,” Programming Librarian Jen Eilers said. “We have these resources a lot of people can’t afford. The library having access to this technology that people can access for free helps level an unequal playing field that technology has opened up.”
English Language Arts teacher Dominique Brown said she had new ideas after learning about using green screens. Students can use the technology to make engaging presentations, putting themselves into historic scenes, books, or their own art projects, for example.
“It’s bringing that digital literacy into the classroom,” Brown said. “This is the work our students need to keep them engaged in class.”
Teachers can also come into the library to work with the technology for planning and preparation after the training is over, and can make appointments with library staff for assistance.
“We hope to build on this partnership and do this once or twice a year,” library Programming Manager Kevin Delecki said. “It’s a really neat partnership.”
Martinez said he’s happy to see his staff and the library collaborating.
“I just think it’s a natural partnership,” he said. “We’re an institution of education, and so is the library. We’re an institution for the community, and so is the library.”