In Nicole Anderson’s computer lab at Hamilton Elementary School in Pasadena, California, students build technology skills that help them in every area of learning. As early as first grade, Hamilton students design and manufacture useful items like pencil holders and class restroom passes using 3-D printers. They are fluent with tools like Google Docs and Google Slides, creating presentations about themselves that include formatting multiple slides, inserting photos and designing text. Anderson has introduced projects that are now included in the curriculum, including creating personal blogs using HTML coding, graphic design projects using green screen, and a pixel art assignment. Anderson’s vision has transformed technology education on campus. All students gain access to coding, typing, internet safety, robotics, word processing, online research, and presentation technology throughout their Hamilton years. Her goal: mold students’ attitudes about using technology to support learning goals, solve problems and innovate.
Anderson serves as Hamilton’s testing and technology point person, attending conferences and then training staff. As the organizer for state assessments, she works with every testing grade to make sure they are comfortable with the Chromebook-based digital testing system before assessments begin. Anderson holds high expectations for herself and her students, and she is committed to helping her colleagues meet those same expectations. She plans and delivers professional development and partners with local coders, computer programmers and 3-D printing companies. Colleagues know that Hamilton students perform at higher levels because of the technology foundation Anderson provides in both typing and basic computer and internet skills. Technology changes quickly, but Anderson stays on the cutting edge: When she decided to add basic coding to her curriculum, she took lessons, learning not only how to code but how to teach the concepts to others.
Anderson plays a central role in Hamilton’s culture. She knows every student in the K-5 school by name, an admirable feat in a school with nearly 600 students. Anderson organizes a long list of school events, including weekly assemblies, enrichment classes, science and cultural fairs, yearbook, and kindergarten playdate program. She mentors students via leadership committees she developed through the Leader in Me program, organized a holiday gift drive for children in a local shelter, and participates on various committees including the English Learner Advisory, School Site Council, Annual Fund, and Parent Teacher Association. Students often gather in the computer lab at lunchtime to work on projects and make up class work.
Anderson earned a bachelor’s in liberal arts from California State University Sacramento in 2005, a master’s in education from California State University Fresno in 2011, and a special education credential from California State University Northridge in 2011.
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