Dr. Lisha Cabral, Superintendent
50 Oliver St.
North Easton, MA 02356
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019
Media Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Easton Public Schools Google Innovator Develops Teacher Technology Platform
EASTON — Superintendent Lisha Cabral is pleased to announce that Suzana Somers, director of instructional technology at Easton Public Schools, is developing a platform to connect teachers to useful technology through the Google for Education Certified Innovator program.
Somers was accepted into the Google Innovator program in May 2018.
The program annually accepts 175 educators from around the world who are put into five separate cohorts. Educators in the program attend a three day ‘Innovation Academy,’ and for the following year they develop solutions to a problem in education. Throughout the 12 months innovators work on their solutions, they are supported by mentors, training opportunities, and each other.
Somers applied to the program with the hope of finding an effective way to connect teachers to useful technology to enhance their lessons. She said teachers often feel bogged down by the expansive amount of technology available, and as the director of instructional technology, she wanted a way to make that technology more accessible and easy to distribute to teachers.
“Despite the huge potential of digital technology in the classroom, the impact on education has been slow moving,” Somers said. “So my problem was, how do we utilize the technology available to enhance great teaching?”
“I work with teachers to help them use technology in a purposeful way,” she added. “I’m not trying to increase screen time for the sake of putting a computer in front of a child. When we put technology in front of a student, it needs to drastically enhance something that wouldn’t be possible without it in the learning experience of the child.”
Somers has not officially named her platform and plans to have a soft launch of her project this spring. She currently calls the platform “Project Campfire.”
“I’m building a coaching platform that focuses on targeting support to teachers based on what they use and what their comfort level is,” Somers said. “Easton has over 300 teachers. I can’t meet with every teacher monthly, but if I could better send information to them on training videos or technology tips, I can make sure they’re getting the resources they need and that truly enhance their lessons.”
“Suzana has identified a problem that impacts many school districts, and she’s found a way to make the technology out there digestible and manageable for teachers,” Cabral said. “Her project will allow educators to pinpoint the right technology for their classes, and to strengthen their lessons as a result.”
This June, Somers will also present at a global International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia along with Maura Richards, an Easton Middle School English teacher.
The two educators will give a presentation titled, “Extending Reality into ELA: Experimental Learning with Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).”
“A lot of people use AR and VR for students to consume content,” Somers said. “We will be using it for kids to create content, and whenever they consume content, really making sure it is enhancing the lesson at hand and engaging students in a different way.”