By Karen Billing
Del Mar Hills Academy played host Oct. 31 to visitors from the Japanese Ministry of Education. The 12 teachers and three administrators from schools throughout Japan, part of the National Center for Teachers Development, were interested in seeing how the Del Mar Union School District uses technology in its classrooms.
“In general, the Japanese feel they are about five years behind us in integrating technology into their instructional programs,” said Mike Casey, the district’s director of technology. “They are just starting to put document cameras in their classrooms.”
The Japanese were not the district’s first visitors. They have had visitors from all over the state, as well as teachers from Egypt and Australia. People around the globe have learned of Del Mar’s “curriculum-first” approach to technology integration as Casey has hosted several far-reaching webinars.
“We don’t just have technology for technology’s sake, we really look at how does it apply to the curriculum,” Casey said.
The visitors circulated between several classrooms as students worked on their Chromebooks on various projects. In the sixth grade they were working with spreadsheets and graphing.
“I’m most impressed by the teachers’ skill set in how to use the computers and the knowledge they have about IT gadgets,” said Yosushi Ishino, a deputy head teacher from Japan. “Every student has a computer which is so different from Japan, we have to bring PCs on a cart to every classroom.”
The Japanese visitors also received a special presentation from sixth grader Azu Kitagawa, who was born in Japan. She talked to them about all the different ways they can use their Chromebooks for school.
“I like to do research on the computers, it’s just easier,” Azu said,
Kitagawa’s parents also helped serve as translators.
The Japanese group was heading next to Dallas on their U.S. tour.