Facilitating Authentic Learning Opportunities Using Technology Brings Top Honors
Posted on 05/27/2014

Bill Selak, a second grade teacher at Rowland Elementary, has been awarded the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)'s Kay L. Bitter Vision Award for Excellence in Technology-Based PreK-12 Education. The award recognizes a PreK-12 educator whose work has had a significant positive impact on technology use in education.

The Kay L. Bitter Vision Award for Excellence in Technology-based PK-12 Education was created in memory of Kay L. Bitter.  Bitter was an active member of the education community, who had a passion for teaching, inspiring, and engaging students in exciting learning activities. She was truly a cutting-edge professional who was extremely effective in bringing technology into her classroom on a daily basis.

Mr. Selak, an ISTE 2013 Emerging Leader & Google Certified Teacher, implements the ISTE standards to facilitate authentic learning opportunities with his second graders in many unique ways. To inspire students, he teaches them how to be creative using project-based learning. He believes that authentic leaning happens when students problem solve and collaborate to reach a goal. Projects in his second grade classroom range from writing original educational songs to create digital books to share student learning. Digital learning is always naturally integrated in his lessons, with the goal of modifying or redefining projects, and not simply substituting an analog tool for a digital one.

When reading the ISTE Standards for Students, Mr. Selak sees permission to take risks and deliver innovative lessons that require critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Rather than assign a practice book to teach students how to “partition a rectangle into rows and columns of same-size squares,” he gives his students iPads and has them create rectangular prisms in Minecraft. Follow the link below to see an 8x3x2 box one of his students created to learn about rectangular prisms: http://bit.ly/minecraftgeometry.

One of his class’ favorite lessons is Mystery Hangout: http://bit.ly/mysteryhangout. Classes take turns to determine the location of the other class by asking yes/no questions. Each student has a role and together, students figure out where the other school is located. This technologically based learning activity allows students that are typically shy take leadership roles, students that have never cared about geography suddenly are looking at Google maps and flipping through an atlas, and students that hate writing take copious notes as they record clues from the other school. The ISTE Standards give Selak permission, as an educator, to take risks and create unconventional, authentic learning opportunities for his second grade students.

Bill Selak will be honored and presented his distinctive award during the ISTE 14 Conference in Atlanta, GA on June 28.