Return to Headlines

KIBSD celebrates Digital Learning Day

March 8, 2017
KIBSD celebrates Digital Learning Day
By Noelle H. Lowery

On Feb. 23, schools around the world participated in Digital Learning Day, and the schools in Kodiak Island Borough School District were part of the action thanks to the work of the recently reassembled KIBSD Teacher Tech Committee.

“Digital Learning Day was particularly exciting this year because it was the first event collaborated on by the renewed Teacher Tech Committee,” explains Committee Chair and Assistant KMS Principal Melissa Haffeman. “Teachers from town and village schools collaborated on showcasing ideas, supporting teachers with resources, and celebrating the work of their colleagues. We look forward to future events lead by teachers for teachers.”

Peggy Azuyak, AKTEACH 7-12 homeschool/correspondence virtual academy coordinator, adds: “DLD is an opportunity for teachers to reflect on the integration of technology into their teaching and learning and to explore an out-of-the-box integration that they may not have thought of trying.”

Launched in 2012, Digital Learning Day is a powerful venue for education leaders to highlight great teaching practice and showcase innovative teachers, leaders and instructional technology programs that are improving student outcomes. It is a grassroots effort that is not about technology; it’s about learning and enhancing the role of the teacher in America’s classrooms. Digital Learning Day promotes the effective use of modern-day tools afforded to every other industry to improve the learning experience in K-12 public schools.

Hundreds of schools and school districts around the world will be participating in Digital Learning Day, and the reason is simple. Constant innovations in digital devices, educational software and mobile apps make it imperative for educators everywhere to collaborate and spread these innovative practices in the digital learning environment to ensure that all students have access to high-quality digital learning opportunities no matter where they live.

In Kodiak, the emphasis is on college and career readiness for all students, and district administrators, faculty and staff recognize the potential of digital tools to help teachers facilitate student success. The focus: To create an environment where students are fully supported when using technology as a tool rather than just passively receiving information from it.

For Digital Learning Day 2017, KIBSD’s Teacher Tech Committee challenged educators throughout the district to participate in the global celebration of digital learning with special classroom projects, such as movie making, coding, virtual field trips or participating in virtual events, Mystery Skype or Skype with an author.

Leading the way were teachers at Old Harbor School, homeschool families with AKTEACH and second-grade classes at Peterson Elementary. Azuyak worked with her homeschool families on Palmer Tinker and Play projects, which included learning basic code using the Dash Robots and UAS flying. Peterson second graders participated in the day by learning how to code and launching a Stride program pilot. Teachers Ashely Burgos and Erica Thompson led the way.

Old Harbor students engaged in a virtual field trip and cultural exchange with Kearney High School students in Nebraska. Students in both schools shared information about each other and had a lively back and forth Q and A session. As part of social studies, Old Harbor first graders used google earth to locate their village, village landmarks like the school and the marina and their individual houses.

“Both activities promoted the global perspective for students,” explains Mike Stoesz, a teacher at Old Harbor. “We do digital learning every day, but it was good to have a Digital Learning Day to process how we use technology and raise the profile of technology in schools.  Doing so, helps move the conversation forward on what the next steps of digital learning should be.”

Jennifer Parnell’s Kodiak High School world history classes used Digital Learning Day to go back in time to learn about the causes and effects of political revolutions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some students used Padlet, an online real-time collaboration tool, to discuss the topic. According to Parnell, Padlet “is basically a bulletin board where users can put any content — images, videos, documents, text — anywhere on the page, together with anyone, from any device.”

She adds: “The great thing about it in a classroom is that everyone can respond simultaneously in a discussion. It’s like everyone talking at once. I like it because every student responds, which is not always the case when you ask a verbal prompt in a classroom of 30 students. A teacher can get a quick assessment of where students are in their learning on that topic.”

Other students in Parnell’s class used CrashCourse on YouTube to review classroom instruction and catch up on any material they have missed due to absences. CrashCourse is an educational YouTube channel that covers 23 different series of classes from English, literature, science and history. Parnell’s students enjoy the sarcastic, fast-paced videos, for which transcripts also are available. ELAP students find the transcripts particularly helpful.

Photos and videos of the projects depicted above accompany this story. Parents and community members can learn more about Digital Learning Day by visiting and by watching the video produced by KIBSD’s Teacher Tech Committee at