On March 2nd and 3rd, the entire GRACE faculty attended NCTIES, the North Carolina Technology in Education Society conference. We’re bringing back tons of great ideas!  We’re working on writing up a post of our favorite takeaways, but in the meantime, here are a few shots of our faculty enjoying their learning. 🙂

Technology is fun!


Our TK-6th grade teachers soaking up the learning. 


(Part of the) English Department + Technology Coach 


Ready to enjoy a keynote speaker


Our student showcase presenters were amazing!


Another great NCTIES!

Maker Cart Highlights

A lot of our grade levels have been doing some great maker activities and it is so exciting to see all of the cool ideas, student collaboration, and final creations.

Mrs. Sweeney’s 4th grade class created a Lego replica of the Wright Brother’s first plane.

Mrs. Robinson’s 5th grade class created “I Spy” bottles with student created objects that represent past Bible scripture lessons

Mr. Bell’s 6th grade classes recreated the Mayan, Aztec, and Inca cities using their blueprint.

6th grade classes explored Breakout Edu-Escape Africa. The students had to complete cross curricular challenges in each room to escape. How fun is this!!!

Teen Tech Week 2017

Teen Tech Week is a national initiative encouraging libraries to showcase their digital resources. At GRACE, Mr. O’Brien has been busy planning activities for the week of March 20th. See the schedule below to see what this year’s Teen Tech Week will feature.

Monday, 3/20: Student Maker Faire

Bring in and display a project that you have made. You can leave your creation on the table in the main hallway all week to show other students what you have been building.

Tuesday, 3/21: Hour of Code

Come to the library during your elective period to try some easy coding. This will be a gentle introduction to writing code with Anna and Elsa of Frozen, or BB-88 from Star Wars.

Wednesday, 3/22: Robotics

Bring your lunch to the library to gain a hands-on demonstration with robotics from guest speaker Gabriel Vanderkin.

Thursday, 3/23: Dead-Tech Deconstruction

Ever want to bust open old electronics to see how they work? We will be opening different types of old technology to have a look inside. Hosted by the GRACE Maker Club, in the library after school.

Friday, 3/24: Retro Lunch & Raspberry Pi

Visit the library during your lunch to check out the Retro Pi, and hear how students created this cool gaming system out of one of our Maker Club Raspberry Pi boards. You’ll also have the opportunity to play some SNES style Zelda, or possibly other retro games.

Fighting Fake and Biased News

This blog post is written by Daniel O’Brien, our 7th-12th grade Media Specialist and originally appeared in the 21st Century GRACE blog on February 4, 2017.

I am currently working with our Senior Seminar classes during a 3-day mini-unit in which we investigate news. As it turns out, many students have a difficult time interpreting the news — but truthfully, who doesn’t have difficulty interpreting news when we are constantly bombarded by sensationalized headlines from all points on the political spectrum every time we check a social media account?

During this mini-unit, we take time to look at how fake news is created. We study the example of Eric Tucker’s tweet that falsely claimed to have found “paid protester” buses at a Trump rally, how it was picked up by message boards, reposted, shared on Facebook, and then re-tweeted by the President himself; and how, despite reaching 16.7 million people, the story was completely false, debunked and admitted to later on. We also examine the article on “Fake News Sausage Factories,” as well as Cameron Harris, examining why websites publish sensationalized, fictitious, and inflammatory stories, and exactly how easy it is for them to publish these stories. (Hint: They want the ad revenue from when you click on the link — it is all monetarily driven). We also talk about tips for evaluating if a story is true, or sensationalized and re-shared opinions.

We then shift gears and investigate bias within news. After talking about what elements of the news contain and portray bias, we take a look at a neutral tragic event, like the San Bernardino or Sandy Hook shootings. We choose one of these events because it is a starting point; everyone can agree that these events are tragedies. Each student is given an article published by a news source, ranging from fairly unbiased to one of the many conspiracy-laden “news” sources on the internet.

After evaluating the article, they try and place the source on the following spectrum:

  • liberal conspiracy theories/garbage
  • left bias
  • left-center bias
  • least biased
  • right-center bias
  • right bias
  • conservative conspiracy theories/garbage.

Students need to back up their placement with reasoning. Next, they take a look at a heavily political article of their choice from the same source and repeat the process. They’re given the opportunity to re-examine and change their minds in light of a heavily politicized and opinionated issue.

After this second round, I introduce them to Media Bias Fact Check. Media Bias Fact Check is a resource that is invaluable when assessing the onslaught of news posts and publications we see each day. Not only do they create and explain a methodology for evaluating the bias of any particular news source and list sources that fall under different biases, they also take into account and inform you of conspiracy websites, “questionable sources” (aka fake news), what sources are least biased, and even provide a Google Chrome Extension that activates and provides this information when you visit a news source.

We then finish by discussing the importance of following more than one viewpoint in the  news, and talk about how to cross-cut your news feed with unbiased sources as well as sources from across the political spectrum — thereby breaking yourself free of the echo chamber that so easily occurs in our normal news consumption and social media curation.

As time goes on it will only become more difficult to determine legitimacy and bias within news, and that it is incredibly important to teach our students that you can’t believe everything you read, and that it is possible to be intentional and smart about the choices they make as they grow up in an age of information overload.