Learning is about making connections, and we invite you to learn and connect with us. Connect Canyons is a podcast about what we teach in Canyons School District, how we teach, and why. We’ll get up close and personal with some of the people who make our schools great: students, teachers, principals, parents, and more. We’ll meet national experts, too. We’ll spotlight the “connection makers” — personalities, programs and prospects — we find compelling and inspiring
Episode 37: Celebrating Canyons’ Custodians
There might not be a more important yet thankless job than the critical work custodians perform around Canyons School District — from cleaning restrooms and lunchrooms to maintaining boiler rooms and chillers. In conjunction with National Custodian Day being celebrated this weekend — every October 2nd — we sat down with Canyons District’s Custodial and Grounds Coordinator Kevin Kelson for insight into the fantastic job the District’s 150 full-time custodians and 500 part-timers do to take care of more than 6 million square feet around Canyons.
Episode 36: Magicians and Problem-Solvers: CSD’s Information Technology Experts are Making ‘IT’ Work for Students, Employees
Canyons District's Information Technology Director Scot McCombs used to joke that there was about only one area where IT wasn’t a factor in education — the asphalt in school parking lots. That, he noted, might change in the not-so-distant future. He attended a presentation on the future of technology that introduced a concept in which tech is embedded in roads to create dynamic lanes and crosswalks to make transportation even safer for students. “It’s crazy to think how pervasive technology is and is a foundation that much of our lives are built on,” McCombs says. From processing grades to producing paychecks, sending out important messages to parents, and keeping bus routes updated, and so much more, IT touches just about every facet of the education process. On Sept. 20, 2022, IT Professionals Day, Canyons sends all the positive emojis to the District’s team of about 75 IT personnel who do amazing behind-the-scenes wizardry as field techs, engineers, Help Desk experts, business support developers, web managers, in-house development team members, tech specialists, and management.
Episode 35: Here’s How CSD Teachers are Spending their Early-Out Fridays
If the quality of schools is a measure of the greatness of its teachers, imagine what can be accomplished when really great teachers work together, pooling their knowledge, resources and ideas to help all students succeed. The Canyons Board of Education recently approved a uniform early-out Friday schedule to provide time and space for teachers to do just that. The goal is simple: student achievement. And the path to get there is what’s known in the education business as “Professional Learning Communities.” What are PLCs and why do they matter? The Connect Canyons podcast crew recently posed these questions, and more, to PLC expert, educational consultant, and career educator Bob Sonju of Solution Tree.
Episode 34 ‘First Class’ Reunion: Class of 2022 Reflects on Canyons District’s First 13 Years
The Class of 2022 is Canyons District’s “First Class” of kindergartners, and we couldn’t be prouder of the progress those fresh-faced 5-year-olds made enroute to becoming young adults who are ready to take on a world that has changed as much as they did. The Connect Canyons podcast crew recently invited a handful of graduates back to their old stomping grounds at Oak Hollow Elementary to reminisce and reunite with former classmates and teachers. The students re-enacted the photos they took at Oak Hollow’s first Kindergarten College-Ready Day back in 2009, reflected on their time with Canyons, and shared a few words of advice for the kindergartners of today and tomorrow.
Episode 33: Utah Author Lehua Parker on Books to Celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and we’re celebrating with books! In this Connect Canyons episode, Utah author Lehua Parker, an advocate of Hawaiian culture and literature, talks about the need for authentic and diverse representation in books. Parker’s writings, including her popular “Niuhi Shark Saga” series, often feature her island heritage. She is joined by Canyons District teacher-librarians Jennifer Van Haaften and Elaine Zhang, and Library Specialist Gretchen Zaitzeff who share tips on books with true-to-life characters and intriguing plots that open both a mirror and window onto different cultures and experiences.
Episode 32: Striking a Balance: Reimagining the Role of Technology in the Classroom
We’re zooming, live-streaming, and relying on technology like never before. Digital technologies were a lifeline during the pandemic, and kept workers working, families connected, and students learning.
But as we begin to imagine life post-COVID-19, many of us are wondering: Are we spending too much time on our computers?
Any doubts over the influence of teachers were certainly put to rest during the pandemic as it became clear that technology, for all its many uses, would never replace great teaching. But technology has a place in the classroom and can be a powerful teaching tool. So, how are schools striking a balance and using technology sparingly, and strategically, to help students succeed? What are we teaching students about the smart, responsible use of technology, and how can parents help reinforce those lessons at home?
Connect Canyons host Kirsten Stewart recently posed these questions, and more, to Canyons School District’s Educational Technology Specialists Dr. Camille Cole and Justin Andersen. Their timely, and wide-ranging conversation touched on the following topics and resources:
What guidance does Canyons give teachers in deciding when, and how, to use technology.
What did we learn about right-sized technology during the pandemic?
For parents, how can technology open a window to the classroom and help them better understand what their students are learning each day?
Exposing students to technology, along with science, math, engineering, and the arts, is prioritized as part of Canyons District’s strategic plan. How technology is used will look different in an elementary classroom than at a high school. But it is always highly-structured by teachers to achieve the following:
Deepen students’ understanding of key concepts: small-group intervention, at-home practice, etc.
Communicate with parents about student progress: electronic assignment submission allows for more immediate feedback on student progress.
Promote collaboration: whole classrooms can share ideas and work together to solve problems.
Promote creativity and student engagement: video examples, augmented reality, and other tools can make learning more relevant, inclusive, and fun.
Promote critical thinking and keep instruction connected to the contemporary world: using the same software many of us use in the workplace, or virtual labs and maker-space applications can prepare students for solving real-world problems using real world tools.
Extend the reach of the classroom: technology supports self-directed, personalized learning tailored to student interests. Online learning supports school choice and allows students to learn at their own pace and from the location of their choice.
Improve teacher productivity
How much time are Canyons’ students are spending on computers while they are at school?
Understanding that not all screen time is created equal, what media consumption, digital literacy, and digital citizenship skills do we teach students?
What is Canyons doing to safeguard students from over-using or inappropriately using technology?
Parents, of course, are their child’s first and most important teacher. What can adults do to model and support healthy habits at home?
What a great way to keep parents informed on the programs and efforts going on within the district. Thank you!