The digital sage

Glendale News Press

Six Valley View Elementary School teachers and staff members were honored Saturday by the Los Angeles County Office of Education for their classroom computer projects.

Hundreds of Los Angeles County teachers applied, but only 54 won Digital Voice Awards, certificates and plaques that celebrate the multimedia and technology-powered lesson plans.

First-grade teacher Lisa Jenks has won the last three years. In her class, students made a movie from a story they read. Using green screen technology and Apple computers in the technology lab, students starred as hermit-crab actors under the sea.

"It allows for creativity and allows them to have the learning be fun and motivating," she said.

They made artwork based on the story, and their individual pieces, through the green screen, became backgrounds to the movie.

"They are using their work in more than one way," Jenks said.

"They learn art, the story we learned and how they can be part of the story through the green screen."

The awards are for teacher-produced work or student work that teachers submit.

Sixth-grade teacher Scott McCreary submitted Luba Djoneva's report on her native Bulgaria.

They designed an interactive website complete with Bulgarian currency, news clippings and the country's national anthem. Using the Internet phone service Skype, Luba recorded and published an interview with her grandmother living in the Eastern European nation.

"Computers, there's lot more information and details because you can use more than one resource," Luba said.

"A textbook is just one resource that summarizes."

Luba's project was a great example of how multimedia and the Web can enhance standard projects, said Shelley Owen, the computer lab assistant, who also won an award.

"This is a 21st century education," she said. "Students don't have to memorize facts, they need to create content. Twenty-first century teaching and learning is about giving kids a voice, a unique voice, and allowing them to create projects that demonstrate what they've learned."

Third-grade teacher Karla Bringas won awards for an interactive website that takes students on a Native American cyber-field trip, and another for her student's podcast.

All students had to produce a report about an animal of their choice, but Bringas' student, Sarah Schultz, found the photos and sound effects that made her Arctic fox podcast unique among the submissions, Bringas said.

Despite her nine years working in Glendale Unified, and having recently completed her master's degree in education, Bringas is among the 77 pink slip recipients at risk of being laid off this summer because of budget woes.

"These kids are the ones who keep me going," she said.

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