The Edge

Digital Equity in Our Classrooms with Dr. Angello Villarreal and Dr. Shantel Scott

May 16, 2024 ISTE Season 2 Episode 18
Digital Equity in Our Classrooms with Dr. Angello Villarreal and Dr. Shantel Scott
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The Edge
Digital Equity in Our Classrooms with Dr. Angello Villarreal and Dr. Shantel Scott
May 16, 2024 Season 2 Episode 18

Join Georgia and Jessica as they explore ways to create digital equity within our classrooms with Dr. Angello Villarreal and Dr. Shantel Scott. 

Show Notes Transcript

Join Georgia and Jessica as they explore ways to create digital equity within our classrooms with Dr. Angello Villarreal and Dr. Shantel Scott. 

ISTE CL Podcast Recording with Dr. Angello Villarreal and Dr. Shantel Scott

[00:00:00] Georgia Terlaje: It's time for the edge, a podcast brought to you by it's the community leaders, whether you're a seasoned educator, a visionary administrator, or a passionate education enthusiast. Fasten your seat belts because this podcast is tailor made for you. Get ready to embark on an exhilarating journey as our it's the community leaders take you behind the scenes and into the dynamic world of education.

[00:00:23] Georgia Terlaje: Get ready to embark on an exhilarating journey as our ITSD community leaders take you behind the scenes and into the dynamic world of education.

[00:00:31] Georgia Terlaje: And the episodes ahead will unveil stories from the front lines, showcasing the relentless dedication and innovation that fuels the transformative field of education. Buckle up and brace yourself for an adventure. Coming up today, we've got two fabulous guests on the show who will discuss digital equity.

[00:00:49] Georgia Terlaje: I'm one of your community leader hosts, Georgia Trilahi. I'm a TK5 instructional coach and an educator of 35 years. And I'm here with my favorite partner in crime, Jessica Peck. 

[00:01:02] Jessica Pack: Hello, hello. I'm Jessica Pack, a middle school teacher and an ISTE author, and I am so excited for today's episode because we're going to deep dive with some special guests about digital equity as it pertains to classroom technology.

[00:01:18] Jessica Pack: We are joined by our fellow ISTE community leader, Dr. Angela Villarreal. who is a high school world language teacher in New Jersey. Thanks so much for being here today. 

[00:01:29] Angello Villarreal: Thank you so much for the invitation. I'm really, really excited to be here and actually discuss what's going on in our schools and what else we can do as educators.

[00:01:39] Jessica Pack: I love that. And you brought a special guest today as well. So would you do the honor of introducing them, please? 

[00:01:45] Angello Villarreal: I'm actually really, really excited to start working with Dr. Scott. Dr. Chantel Scott is a high school teacher. She is amazing in everything with regarding with technology equity. I hear a lot of her selfie card talks that she's been doing great and is really inspirational.

[00:02:05] Angello Villarreal: Dr. Scott, anything else you want to add? 

[00:02:07] Shantel Scott: That sounds amazing. Thank you so much. 

[00:02:12] Georgia Terlaje: Well, we welcome you both to the edge. Dr. Villarreal and Dr. Scott, could you give us a little insight into how you met? Like, what's your origin story? 

[00:02:23] Angello Villarreal: Should I go first? Yeah. Okay. My story is a little bit I'm going to try to make it a little bit short now.

[00:02:28] Angello Villarreal: Well, I came from Peru. I was born and raised in Peru. I came here at the age of 19 years old, when the only word that I I knew was hello, took me a while actually to learn the language. It was a little bit difficult and, you know, through there, I actually started learning more and more about education.

[00:02:46] Angello Villarreal: I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. And little by little, I guess I have the underdog mentality of always trying to do more and more. And what else I can do to improve ended up doing my doctoral degree. I teach amazing, amazing students at a high school here in New Jersey. And also now I'm an adjunct professor at Monmouth University as well.

[00:03:05] Angello Villarreal: So that's something that I'm passionate about and start sharing more of what I know and to my students.

[00:03:15] Shantel Scott: I am born and raised in New Jersey. I come from a long line of educators, always knew I wanted to be a teacher. When I got my, I graduated from Penn State and got my first job, I immediately looked around my classroom and I was like, Whoa, there's no technology here and wrote my first grant. It's been 20 years since that day, but 20 years in, in the same town that I started, I met Dr.

[00:03:49] Shantel Scott: Villareal, right? This, this summer. And we, we realized that we had so much in common with the population of students that we, that we love and want to see thrive. And also with, and how to make technology. Technology to do that.

[00:04:10] Jessica Pack: Could you kind of give us a rundown on the concept of digital equity and maybe touch on why it's so crucial to continue to talk about in today's educational landscape? 

[00:04:23] Angello Villarreal: Let me start with that. And I know I'm sure Dr. Scott will expand on this. I personally see technology, not just using a A computer or not just using Google Docs or Google slides or not even using just maybe the projector.

[00:04:37] Angello Villarreal: Some people misinterpreted as far as how they use technology, but now what else you can use technology to advance the students engagement in the classroom and how they can properly utilize it as global citizens and and and especially trying to utilize it in what else they can do. And as far as the equity I guess now that we are all of us a little bit older, we think or may or may not have the vision that students because they have their phones, they should be really good at technology, but sometimes they're not and they don't understand maybe the all the different applications that we may have.

[00:05:14] Angello Villarreal: Or they might use as educators, but also I think something's really important is also partnering it up with the, with the families, with the communities, a lot of the parents that I always talk to, they don't know how to access Genesis or they don't know how to access Google Classroom or different kind of platforms and how they can help and support their, their children.

[00:05:32] Angello Villarreal: So I think it's also, it's, it's, it's it's a different way to actually see it when you start working with the parents. And I think that's also a powerful tool that we should utilize.

[00:05:44] Shantel Scott: I fully agree that as far as technology and an equity are concerned, technology is just a really huge opportunity to reinvent our approaches to learning and collaboration, as everyone knows. But from an equity standpoint it's closing accessibility gaps and it's helping us to adapt learning experiences so that.

[00:06:09] Shantel Scott: So that all voices can be heard and and giving students the opportunity to feel confident in what they're doing. 1 of my main, my main focus in general is is something called a selfie. Really? It's about. Encouraging self love, self affirmation and building confidence in learners and technology helps us do that.

[00:06:36] Shantel Scott: But the beauty of it is that for everyone they get to use technology to share their narratives and tell their stories. And ultimately, that is the equitable end of technology. 

[00:06:53] Georgia Terlaje: Well, you're speaking our language because Jessica and I both love digital storytelling and amplifying student voices. So you've come to the right place.

[00:07:02] Georgia Terlaje: What are some successful strategies or initiatives you've seen that have helped bridge the digital equity gap in education?

[00:07:10] Angello Villarreal: At least to me was always providing a student voice. I believe that students sometimes have different ways of Embracing or showcasing actually what they what they're good at. And they love doing that. And one of the ways is actually through technology. I believe that every single student have their own personality.

[00:07:26] Angello Villarreal: They all have their, their, their own potential and most of the times, actually, they ended up doing it. Using technology in showcase those kind of talents from some time videos. I, I, one of the best ones that I have actually, I'm still bragging about it to my students. They're utilizing how to create a commercial or even a voiceover for students in the target language.

[00:07:48] Angello Villarreal: And. At first I thought it was going to be difficult or the student were like, no, I don't want to do it. But the amount of the amount of positive reviews that I had, even from parents saying like, Hey, this is the first time I actually worked with my child in a project. It was so fun. I hope I was saying if you're writing in Spanish, please correct me.

[00:08:07] Angello Villarreal: And it was so great to see those those little things as at least helping also connecting with with their families as well.

[00:08:16] Shantel Scott: I'm just going to speak from my own classroom experience. I know that there are some really global initiatives that are going on.

[00:08:27] Shantel Scott: But in my classroom, I make every, I believe that classrooms are, are, Selfie labs, which is a social emotional learning lab. And technology helps to can help to create an environment that supports the supports learning. So what I like to do when I train teachers is how to use technology to create an environment, to create a mood, a whole vibe in your classroom.

[00:08:57] Shantel Scott: And that is. It's, it's more than just the kids using the tools creating an environment in the classroom helps them to back to feeling comfortable, feeling supported, feeling like this is their space and they own it. in the end is going to close those, those equity gaps where everyone feels like they have a place and they can learn.

[00:09:23] Shantel Scott: So if I had to say an initiative, it's, it's, it's making every classroom a selfie lab and using technology to build character and build a mood, a whole mood in the classroom. 

[00:09:37] Georgia Terlaje: Well, and it sounds like Like part of it is like what you're talking about is getting the message out to educators, especially seasoned educators that maybe aren't as articulate with technology as, as you are, but getting them to see that this can bridge the gap.

[00:09:57] Georgia Terlaje: And, you know, that's a divide to get over as well. So kudos to you for, it sounds like you're maybe doing that in your district and beyond is helping people see how impactful it can be. 

[00:10:11] Jessica Pack: Well, and I like that you're both kind of talking about the, the fact that it's not just digital equity in terms of access.

[00:10:19] Jessica Pack: It's what are you doing with the tools. And I would think that extends to what type of training and support the teachers have to actually use technology in a pedagogically sound way, as opposed to, you know, just rolling out a PDF reader or something that's like super entry level. Base level skill set.

[00:10:38] Jessica Pack: So, do you have advice for districts or policy makers who want to, you know, make, help teachers make more of a selfie lab in every classroom as opposed to saying, you know, that really entry level access?

[00:10:57] Shantel Scott: Advice. You don't need to really spend that much money, even though we all know that there are schools, there's especially a special one in Atlanta, Georgia that has an unlimited budget. And on Instagram, you can see that they are, they are doing the absolute most in the most innovative ways. But it doesn't, it doesn't have to be all of that.

[00:11:23] Shantel Scott: And. Really just from the top down, the, the mood in the building begins with administrators. And I'll just give, and this is a super simple example. I, one of the things that, and this is, this is just using YouTube, so nothing major. In the beginning of the school year, each one of my classes, we create a YouTube class.

[00:11:48] Shantel Scott: Party playlist, and each student is asked to embed so they have to learn something, embed a video onto the playlist that if I had it playing when they walked into the building it would make them into my classroom It would make them smile and they would immediately feel, you know, a little warm cozy and like the day is going.

[00:12:12] Shantel Scott: Okay That is an absolutely effective use of technology skills on using the slide presentations. But it can't just be in my classroom. If also and they do do this in my building in the morning Record suggestions are taken from teachers on like, what kind of music do you want to hear? And if it's going to make you smile when you walk in then then that sets the the tone for the day So the second day of school, I know I was dragging and my favorite song I want to dance with somebody by whitney houston came on and it changed everything so It's it's a top down Top down approach is my is my Biggest advice.

[00:12:59] Shantel Scott: Please stop asking teachers to use tools that you're not using at the administrative level yourself.

[00:13:10] Angello Villarreal: I love Dr Scott. I love how you say that also, because even when you do with the students it makes them feel hurt appreciated and they have value in being in the classroom, not just a student or a number or a letter grade, which is amazing what you do over there. Thank you.

[00:13:31] Georgia Terlaje: But that works for teachers too, that I can see like for PDs. Why not have your playlist or, you know, your walking in music that, you know, is something that makes you happy. And I agree a hundred percent. Dr. Scott, the. What it admin wants, they really need to represent instead of being a talking head.

[00:13:55] Georgia Terlaje: You're absolutely right. So I think that message definitely needs to get out into the world a little bit more.

[00:14:12] Jessica Pack: So,

[00:14:16] Jessica Pack: Georgia, do you want to go down to, like, the second to the last one? 

[00:14:19] Georgia Terlaje: Oh, can I 

[00:14:19] Jessica Pack: ask 

[00:14:20] Georgia Terlaje: one that's not on the list? Can I ask one that's not for a second? Dr. Scott or Dr. Villareal, do you have, like, a story that comes to mind or an anecdote for one of your kiddos? That you saw sort of transform the student by using technology and having this space to express themselves.

[00:14:45] Georgia Terlaje: Anyone. 

[00:14:46] Angello Villarreal: I'm still, again, I'm still going back to the voiceover. So I always tell my students If I wasn't teaching, I probably would try to make make a head to be a voiceover for a Disney movie or something. I always wanted to be either Mufasa or Simba from Lion King or doing something. I always wanted to do my voice in a movie.

[00:15:05] Angello Villarreal: So then I came with the idea that like, Hey, let's do some of the target language that we had to utilize for Spanish one and Spanish two, how they can utilize it into a Disney movie. Let's make up the content, see what we can do. And That was one of the best projects that I've had where students were able to have so much fun.

[00:15:30] Angello Villarreal: They were coming up with the craziest ideas and it really got everybody together. They had students working that usually the quiet, the most quiet student is the one that doing the amazing job. He actually got a lot of the other students to collaborate. Another student. Also, it was amazing to hear that they were working with the families.

[00:15:50] Angello Villarreal: So stuff like that, that, you know, that they are, there's collaboration the, even the families involved it, it was, it was great. So I, that's 1 of the ones, and then I have another 1 usually do at the end of the year. And I tell them, okay, we let's recap everything that we learned since September all the way to June, create a commercial, do something that you would like to do.

[00:16:14] Angello Villarreal: Maybe you would like to sell, or maybe something that you would like to a positive message. Why are you going to be doing in the summer? And also, that was 1 of the best activities that I've had. That even if students now that are seniors, I used to teach them from freshmen, they come back. I keep, they keep saying like, that was the best video, the best product I've had.

[00:16:34] Angello Villarreal: So yeah, that's one of the highlights of my teaching.

[00:16:43] Georgia Terlaje: Dr. Scott, does yeah, just something come to mind for you. 

[00:16:46] Shantel Scott: As I mentioned, I mean, there is a, a theme to to like my classroom environment and I'm really all about the, the students being windows to each other by telling their stories. Every kid has such a unique life experience, even the ones that it seems like they've been living in the same town forever that's really that you would, you would be surprised.

[00:17:14] Shantel Scott: They all have so such different family lives. And, you know, I have kids that come from, you know, all over. So it's really about that, that, that storytelling. So I liked, I like them to create these, these projects and I'm, I'm not even going to use anything fancy right now. I'm just going to go back to Google slides really quick because one of the things that I do is I teach the kids how to give a, a solid oral presentation and how they can design beautiful slides with that someone on an ISTE stage might, might use to tell their story.

[00:17:57] Shantel Scott: Because we all know at, at ISTE, there's those people that are standing on the stage, they're amazing. And they're all telling their stories. And I hope that, that my students could be that. So we work a lot on, on public speaking, but developing these amazing slides with video clips and, and. Where the rest of the class can can learn about them.

[00:18:21] Shantel Scott: So I. It's all about preparation, how to communicate and being a window to the other people in the class. So again, it doesn't have to be crazy. You don't need super expensive tools. You've got Adobe Express and Google Slides. Then you have digital storytelling. So you know, that's, I know you asked about a student but There are so many students that over the course of the years they write these notes or they'll, they'll, they'll say something and they're like, oh, in your class, I learned to be more confident to, to stand up and talk to other people and feel applauded and, and feel good about an oral presentation and the slide deck that is, that is behind them.

[00:19:08] Shantel Scott: So If every time I get one of those, I know that I have succeeded and technology has succeeded 

[00:19:15] Jessica Pack: what I hear you both talking about is technology as an avenue for cultural relevancy, and I absolutely love that because our kids do come in the door, not as. You know, just themselves alone, but with like a whole community that they're from and and with all of their own personal lived experiences.

[00:19:34] Jessica Pack: So I think that's really powerful. Looking ahead. What do you believe? Oh, sorry. Can you hear my dog?

[00:19:43] Jessica Pack: A little bit, but we love B. Okay, looking ahead. What do you believe the future holds for digital equity and classroom technology? And what should educators and stakeholders be prepared for in this evolving landscape? 

[00:20:03] Angello Villarreal: Something that I, I personally believe is that We tend to be more, more reacting than being proactive, so I think that we need to be ahead and don't wait until something comes up.

[00:20:15] Angello Villarreal: I mean, we, we already got shot with what happened in 2020 with the pandemic and we didn't know what to do. I think that we need to be ahead of the game. Students are, while we are adapting to what's going on right now. I believe that is students already thinking 10 years ahead of us, and they are trying to come up with different ideas.

[00:20:35] Angello Villarreal: I, I think that we need to actually start creating and bringing some of those gaps and as far as as educators, I think is mostly being open and being not. Being okay with failing with technology because sometimes it happens to us. What happens when the Wi Fi goes down? What do we do? So being always prepared and be open to always change and you know, always make sure that we are available to those kind of opportunities that students may have.

[00:21:12] Shantel Scott: I think the future of Digital learning and digital equity is is in the realm of relevance and that digital platforms will assist kids in, on their learning journeys and keeping them more connected to the, the world that's out there. And that includes curriculums that teach podcasting. And that is, if we're, if we're talking about closing financial equity gaps, that is something that, that might do it.

[00:21:46] Shantel Scott: Because people are on YouTube making millions. There's just keeping The use of technology relevant, allowing the platforms to assist the kids in being more relevant in this world and not just using like little programs and tools for, for the sake of using them. Of course, we know that digital readers will always be important and, you know, having things read aloud, the immersive readers and all of that.

[00:22:14] Shantel Scott: But the future. Is in keeping it relevant and allowing the kids to be more I hate to use the word public because I know that's taboo in public education, but, but teaching them the skills to be more public when, when they graduate.

[00:22:35] Jessica Pack: Thank you so much. This has been such a great discussion. Before we let you go today, where can listeners connect with you to maybe continue the conversation or. Build their personalized learning community.

[00:22:51] Angello Villarreal: Most of my stuff is on Twitter, or now it's called X. My tag is Angelo, A N G E L L O, last name Villarreal. Didn't have enough room. So, V as in Victor, I L L A R R E. And for some reason, I actually created a TikTok a few a few months ago. And I have to say by the way, my, my tag is Dr. V underscore profit, but that was one of the best decisions I think I made.

[00:23:19] Angello Villarreal: Most of the students now get to really to know me. They only see me as a teacher of Spanish. They never knew actually who really I am. I was able to build more connections. So I have those as platforms, Dr. Scott. 

[00:23:35] Shantel Scott: On Instagram, you, everyone should follow me at thisismemvmt. So it's thisismemovement.

[00:23:44] Shantel Scott: And that's really about being your best selfie. But also on Twitter, I am the learning doctor, and that's where you can get more tips and things on, on things. Ways to use technology and support equitable initiatives in your classroom. But we all need a little motivation. So the Instagram at this is me movement is, is where you need to be.

[00:24:11] Jessica Pack: Perfect. Well, We'll definitely all connect with you and thank you again for coming on the Edge podcast. Listeners, we hope you learned something new or were given some food for thought to strengthen not only your practice but also your heart for education. My name is Jessica and you can find me at Pacwoman208 on Twitter, threads, and Instagram.

[00:24:34] Georgia Terlaje: And I'm Georgia Terlahi, and you can find me at Georgia Terlahi on Twitter or X or whatever it is called now, and both of us at storytellingsavestheworld. com. 

[00:24:45] Jessica Pack: On behalf of everyone at ISTE's The Edge podcast, remember to keep exploring your passion, fostering your creativity, and continue taking risks, all things that can bring you to the edge.

[00:25:00] Jessica Pack: Yay! Yay! 

[00:25:01] Yay!