By CRISTINA JANNEY
Students at Hays Middle School are helping solve the tech troubles of their fellow students and even teachers.
Twenty-one students are members of the HMS Tech Team, which began as a pilot program this school year. The students had to apply to be on the team.
Two HMS eighth-grade students on the Tech Team — Wyatt Waddell and Chason VanDerWege — gave a presentation on the team’s work at the USD 489 school board meeting last Monday.
“We help the students with all their technology needs. We try to make the setup of iPads easier and all technology,” VanDerWege said, “and we help with classroom support for teachers and implement technology.”
The middle school has created a ticket system for students to submit technology problems. The Tech Team students are on call during a Tech Team class or during their seminar class period. They try to respond to tickets within one or two class periods.
The ticket system is on the HMS website, and students don’t need to leave their classrooms or miss instruction time to submit tickets.
The Tech Team students have been collecting data on the success of the ticket program. The students have received 54 tickets in the last six weeks. They have been able to resolve 68 percent of the issues. Most of the remaining problems related to hardware and had to be sent in to school’s technology director.
The Tech Team also helps with other school projects, including the iPad rollout, setting up Apple IDs, setting up Hoopla and Libby with Hays Public Library and HMS Library staff, developing and maintaining the Student Life website, learning the ins and outs of a new educational robots for implementation in classrooms, and creating tutorials for the HMS Canvas page.
The robots the students worked with are from Wonder Workshop and are called Dash and Dot. One of the HMS teachers received a grant to purchase the robots. The students can use the robots to learn coding and work on problem-solving skills. The Tech Team students have learned how to program the robots and will be teaching small groups of other students how to use Dot and Dash.
The students also are learning about coding and last week started making an anti-bullying video. The video is based around the word “respect.” The students hope to show the video during an elementary school assembly. They are also developing an online scheduling system for the HMS counselors.
One of the team’s most recent projects was building a platform for the Zones of Regulation Check- In.
Zones of Regulation has been a concept that has been around for years. Students report their emotions as good, sad, frustrated or angry. In the past, this has been done with physical indicators, such as popsicle sticks, Julie Zollinger, school psychologist, said.
Zollinger searched online for a program that would allow students to self report their emotions online, but she didn’t find anything.
“We know we have middle school kids we need to track. With 700-some kids in our building, that is hard to do,” she said.
She sought the help of the Tech Team.
“I said this is the program,” Zollinger said. “I pulled it up on my computer and was Googling pictures they use. And it was just awesome because they turned to each other. I felt like I was just a fly on the wall at a startup in Silicone Valley. They had their iPads, and they were like, ‘We can do this.’ ‘Hey, if we do this then this would work better.’ I just sat back and watched them. It was a great feeling.”
HMS Tech Team members Peyton Zimmerman and Jude Tippy gave a report to the school board on Monday on their work on the project.
The students used Microsoft Forms to create a Zones of Regulation quiz. They then added the Apple app Remind as notification system that will alert the students in the program to take the quiz when they first get to school.
That data is forwarded to teachers, counselors and the school psychologist so they can help the student better regulate their emotions. The students plan to further add a system to remind teachers to check the data.
The Microsoft Forms data can be downloaded into an Excel document and graphed.
The Tech students piloted the program to work out bugs. The program rolled out to a limited number of target students on Oct. 12.
“This quiz is going to make it a lot easier for school administrators, teachers and school psychologists to get the information that they need because sticks don’t work anymore,” Tech Team student Zimmerman said.
The HMS Tech Team Video Team hopes to make a video tutorial for students on how to use the Zones of Regulation online quiz.
Board members said they were very impressed with the students’ work.
“It is like that age-old thing where you are walking down the hall or see a stranger on the street and you say, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ ‘Fine, fine, fine.’ Sometimes I think are you really getting accurate data?” board member Luke Oborny said. “If you are interacting with students in a method with technology that they are already used to and are comfortable with, I think you can get more data and a lot more accurate data.”