- Dr. Robert MacNaughton, school superintendent
- Mrs. Judy Barbera, assistant superintendent for instruction
- Mr. James Yap, director of instructional technology and data
- Eleanor Schuster, library media specialist
- Brian Fox, principal
- Teresa Ivey, assistant principal
James Yapp has provided considerable support and has worked with Peggy Sheehy to find solutions to any problems that had to be considered over the 4 years since Peggy introduced Second Life as a learning vehicle in the school.
We observed two groups of students working with Peggy Sheehy and Gayle Yodowitc, Family Consumer Science teacher, working on their private islands in Second Life. Students brushed up their avatars, sent an IM to become a member of a new group, and heard the plan for their upcoming work to prepare for a debate on" Should teens have credit cards?" Both teachers worked with students in Second Life, and it was clear that the work in Second Life was motivational and focused students on their debate research.
There is a 40 week technology program for all students called Gateway to Learning: Gateway to Technology. Two former wood-working rooms now have full computer labs in them. 6h graders have 10 weeks of technology classes, with a class every day. 7th graders have 20 weeks of technology classes with a class every day, and 8th graders have 10 weeks of technology classes with a class every day. The focus is on critical and creative thinking and problem solving.
During our visit students were creating podcasts in Garageband with the 2nd library media specialist, Elenaor Schuster.
We also learned about Saywire,which is currently being implemented K-8. Saywire is a secure social/academic network. Peggy talked about her use of Quest Atlantis as another MUVE (multi-user virtual environment). We learned about Peggy's work with Bernajean Porter, author of the book DigiTales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories (who visited Suffern Middle School and worked with 75 students for 4 days last year). We viewed an amazing and powerful digital story that Peggy created in a DigiTales workshop, called All that Glitters.
This post does not cover all that we experienced and learned on this incredible site visit, but you get the idea! It was amazing. We plan to further synthesize our experience and determine if and how we can implement a student presence in a virtual environment.
Thanks to Peggy Sheehy and all the incredible staff who welcomed us to Suffern Middle School today!!!