Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sharon Sutton

June 1, 2012 - As Coordinator of Technology and Outreach at the UCLA Lab School, Sharon Sutton brings a hands-on philosophy to her duties by ensuring that students have access to one of the most important tools in 21st century education. Because of the school’s role as an elementary education demonstration school of best practices, modeling the most effective uses of technology is critical to its mission.

“Computers are used the same way you would use a pencil, ruler, book, or magazine,” notes Sutton. “[Students] can access information from a wide variety of sources, work collaboratively sharing different versions of work, and develop a multimedia presentation to represent what they’ve learned using Keynote, PowerPoint, or iMovie, to name just a few utility applications that foster creativity, collaboration, and communication. The bottom line is that technology enables our students greater access to information and a means to ‘publish’ their learning so others can learn from them.”

This spring, Sutton was recognized with the Making IT Happen Award presented by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and California’s Computer-Using Educators (CUE). She received the award in March at the statewide CUE conference and will be recognized with other Making IT Happen winners from across the nation at a reception during ISTE’s national conference, to be held June 24-27 in San Diego.

Sutton has been recognized for revitalizing CUE Los Angeles over the last 12 years. She helped the local chapter establish a Tech Fair for teachers and served on the statewide CUE Board of Directors for six years. She led and organized volunteers at the 2006 ISTE annual conference in San Diego and will do the same this year. She served as a virtual mentor through ISTE for teachers across the country for Hewlett Packard’s Technology for Teaching program, and was selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2003. Sutton has also worked with the North Central Regional Educational Lab to provide professional development for the Department of Defense schools.

At UCLA Lab School, Sutton spearheaded the development of the Creating a Critical Thinking Curriculum Institute in 2000, which has become an annual professional development conference for teachers that focuses on integrating technology, project-based learning, and information literacy. She has been involved with the school from the very beginning of her career, earning her teaching credential by doing her student teaching at what was then known as University Elementary School (UES) while completing her undergraduate degree in education at UCLA. Sutton feels that the school’s constructivist learning environment relies heavily on the inclusion of technology as part of learning, not merely as an accessory to it.

“Our students are living in the 21st Century with the Internet and its vast sources of information [and] a broad range of electronic tools that enable a variety of ways to communicate, demonstrate learning, and communicate that learning in complex problem solving and critical thinking-based projects,” Sutton states. “We are educating our students for their tomorrow.”

- Joanie Harmon