Technology in the Hands of the Powerful


The Student Has Become the Teacher: Technology in the Hands of the Powerful. This was the title for my TEDxABQ Education talk on empowering teachers to champion the idea of creating student-led technology teams at their schools. Our students are our greatest resource.  Their help, ideas, and vision can help create lasting change within the walls of our schools…all we have to do is empower them with the tools to help lead the change alongside the educators in our schools. The theme of the TEDxABQ Event was all about Equity in Education…I can’t think of a better way to provide equity than by giving students a front row seat at the table!

Click here to watch my TED Talk! I was so blessed to bring along 7 of my fabulous students to speak about how being on our SWAT Team has impacted them! These students inspire me and are a sweet reminder of all things that are good in education! This experience was one that I know these kiddos will never forget and I am so lucky to be one of their teachers.

My tech team is called the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology). This group truly became my teammates as we worked together to create published work, inspire teachers, lead others towards learning how to integrate technology into their classrooms, reach out to the community, and create change within our school and district.

I’ve previously written about how I choose the members of my SWAT Team, the application process, and the general goals of the group. Click here to view this post.

Hopefully, the TED Talk and the ideas presented by my students inspire you to begin thinking about how you can involve your students in changing the technology integration climate at your school!


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March Madness and Bracketology in the Classroom


A good friend of mine recently shared this app, Bracket Maker Pro, and we had a really fun time playing with it. I knew I wanted to try it with some of my students. Today, my SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology) met after school and I thought it would be fun for them to have an epic “App Smack Down.” I asked the kids to get in groups of two or three so that we could have 8 teams. Since this was for fun after school, I told them that they could choose any app to showcase and they would have one minute to speak about the possibilities of the application and why we’d select that app over the opposing team’s app. Bracket Maker Pro  (this is an iPhone app, but can be used on iPad as well) makes it very simple. All you do is select the number of teams, select whether it’s single or double elimination, and most importantly shuffle the order, so no app has a higher seeded advantage. Then, the lightning rounds begin and each team has one minute to highlight their app. Once they both present, then the group votes for the team that will advance through the bracket. Since I work with very competitive 4th and 5th graders, I had them vote anonymously. Finally, once the votes are tallied,  a winner advances to the next round. Since we did 8 teams, our bracket was smaller than the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, Finals, and Champion.

As we played and the kids debated, it made me think of all the cool ways this could be used in the classroom. What a better way to engage kids in subjects than to involve them in current sporting events? The kids also surprised me with their public speaking skills, presentations,  general ability to prove their points, and their power to persuade.

Here’s a few ideas that you could use in your classroom:

  • App Sharing
  • Book Reviews
  • Various Topics in a Geometry Unit
  • Historical Figures
  • General Debates
  • Follow Up to a Persuasive Writing Project (Is a bike or car better?)
  • Geography

The list could go on and on, and what kid doesn’t love a good debate on something they’re passionate about?


Pic Collage vs.Geometry Dash 


Talking Tom vs. Clash of Clans


This is what quickly voting anonymously looks like.






I hope you have fun with this! Please leave a comment as to how your class has used this app as a tool to support this fun learning activity!




Creating a Student Technology Team at Your School


SWAT Team 2014

2013-2014 SWAT Team at North Star Elementary

A student technology team is a great way to create a student-led culture and promotes:

  • Student leaders at school
  • School & community outreach and engagement
  • Teamwork
  • Coaching & mentoring
  • Coding Skills
  • Flexible learning environments
  • Compelling evidence of success
  • Public Speaking
  • Confidence
  • Content creation
  • Customer service
  • Student voice


SWAT Team 2014

I am getting ready to begin my new SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology) for this new school year. It’s become such an important part of our student culture at my school. I have it open to 4th and 5th graders and they must submit an application and a resume to be considered for the team. In previous years, I have had 20 students on the team. Some of the things we’ve done in the past consist of the following: App reviews and ratings ( identification of how the app is related to instructional goals and content creation), Student Genius Bar (engagement with community and other teachers to get tech support from the students on the team), creation of Tips and Tricks Video Tutorials, tech training for teachers, community service (cleaning iPhones for parents and teachers at school), and an evening event to teach teachers and school leaders how to use iPad apps in the classroom (App Speed Dating).

I think the first step in getting a team going at your school is generating buzz about what students will accomplish by being on the team. Having a name for the team also helps get excitement brewing. Some other school tech teams call their teams Genius Squad, Techsperts, and iWizards to name a few. Next, it’s important to create a competitive application process to ensure you have students that are motivated to work towards accomplishing the goals for the team. I have students complete an application as well as a short resume. Not only does this take time to thoughtfully craft answers, but it allows students to learn how to create a simple resume. Later, I seek input from the home room teacher and carefully review the applications and resumes. Then, the fun begins! The activities you complete with your team will vary depending on the needs of your school.

Click here to download the application and sample resume that I used for recruiting my team.

Click here to view an older post about my SWAT Team’s big Speed Sharing Event.

Click here to see how we conducted our App Reviews

Click here to see our App Speed Share Event website

Best of luck to all your future tech leaders!

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Creating a Student Technology Leadership Team

This year I started an after school club called the SWAT Team (Students Working to Advance Technology)

Our website:

I have 18 fourth and fifth graders who are part of the first S.W.A.T team (Students Working to Advance Technology). This group of kiddos work with me after school and we complete app reviews to decide which apps should stay and which apps should go, as well as determine appropriate grade levels for each app. We also create blog posts about apps and different technology related writing prompts, and finally, we have “Genius Bar Hours” where students can help classroom teachers with their technology needs. Our first big event is going to be in two weeks. It is our first ever “App Speed Share Event.” Similar to speed dating, this is going to be a fun, fast paced learning event for teachers to discover 10 new apps on their iPad. Each student on the team will spend 3.5 minutes discussing the features of each app and the implications in the classroom. My students are so excited for this event. It’s really a great leadership opportunity for the kiddos and they surprise me with their dedication, creativity, and leadership skills.


App Speed Sharing Event from April Requard on Vimeo.

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The poster to promote our event