Episode 122: Tech Tool Bonanza Jeff Utecht
Episode 120: AESD Continual Learning Keynote Jeff Utecht
I started my teaching career at a 4th grade teacher. To this day it is my favorite grade! Through the years, like most elementary teachers I have ended up teaching all grade levels in one form or another from K-6.
In 2005 I started my blog The Thinking Stick and that is when things took a turn towards educational technology. I was an elementary computer teacher at the time and just wrote about what my students were working on and my thoughts on how “computer time” was being integrated into their classroom.
In 2007 I co-wrote a plan to help my school go 1:1 6th-12th. Soon after we started that implementation process I moved schools and helped to write the plan and rollout the 1:1 at that school as well. I worked for a wiki company that wanted to get into the educational space, was asked to write a course for a university and next thing I know I’m keynoting conferences.
Today, my passion is still students and I am honored that I get to touch so many students’ lives though the work of their teachers. On days when I need a break from the company, I substitute teach in….you guessed it, any 4th grade class I can get my hands on.
I am the product of small town living in the Yakima Valley, in Central Washington. Growing up, I was active in school sports and activities and I can point to a few key teachers, coaches, and counselors who helped plant the seeds which would eventually grow into a career in education.
My first teaching gig was in the Prosser School District. When Prosser High got a couple sets of iPads (to share between all the classes), I did all I could to have those in my class as much as possible and integrate them into student learning. This was my first true foray into project based learning and how access to devices can open a world of possibilities for students in regards to student choice, authentic learning experiences, and personalized learning.
My next position was in the Richland School District as a high school ELA teacher. In my second year, the district was beginning a 1:1 chromebook pilot and I volunteered to have a dedicated cart of devices in my room. This was when I witnessed first hand the true transformational power of devices in each kid’s hands.
That year, I presented an idea to my building administrators. I researched and wrote a job description and 4 year plan to be an instructional technology coach at the school. My administration loved the idea, contacted the district administration, and I was hired as an instructional coach in the district. I served four years in that role before moving on to my current position as a district level Instructional Technology Coach in the Hood River School District.
In addition to working in districts, I started a side hustle called Project Based Awesome. PBA was based around the idea of three pillars: project based learning/instructional technology/sound pedagogical teaching strategies and how learning should live somewhere in the confluence of all three. My partner and I wrote an e-book called The PBA Starter Kit, co-hosted a podcast called “The Project Based Awesome Podcast,” and worked as consultants in school districts around the northwest. I also earned my Google For Education Trainer certification and work as an educational consultant in school districts outside of the PBA focus.
Aside from my passions as an educator, I am an outdoor adventure athlete, music lover, traveler, adventure seeker, and part time #vanlifer. I’m really excited to be a Co-host on the Shifting Our Schools Podcast and hope you enjoy what my voice and experience bring to each episode.
As an international educator, I’ve enjoyed a variety of roles in the teaching of social studies, guidance counseling, instructional technology and athletic coaching. Those positions have provided me insights invaluable to partnering with educators as we use the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework to design and implement learning activities.
Since teaching objectives often cross into many disciplines and support lifelong learning and habits of mind, I engage with librarians and teachers to develop and support research projects. We implement curriculum to address numerous literacies (information, media, visual, design and technology.) Our teamwork skills students to be able to respond to the increasing demands that the 21st century place upon them– to search for, analyze, curate and cite information in order to construct and communicate their understanding.
In the early 2000s, I started writing about how to leverage emerging technologies to promote inquiry-based projects that spark engagement and enhance meaning for students. I still do so at the Lessons Learned blog in an effort to spread the great practices and resources I see used in schools. I started recording conversations about applying the use of trending technology in 2008 when I partnered with Jeff to start this Shifting Our Schools (SOS) podcast. In 2011 I teamed up with Dr. Mark Hofer to start the Ed Tech Co-Op podcast where we discussed ideas about the intersection of technology, pedagogy and content knowledge (TPACK), innovative instructional practices and higher education while interviewing educators from around the globe.