Focus on Leadership

Department Chair/Mentor Teacher Trains Teachers on Effective Use of Technology to Support Teaching and Learning
John McGarvey, Ed.D.
Department Chair
Bonita High School
CSU/UCI Alumnus

Dr. John McGarvey is entering his 20th year of teaching for the Bonita Unified School District. For the first 16 years of his career, he was a history and computer teacher for San Dimas High School.  For the last four years, he has been a computer teacher and more recently a Department Chair for the Fine and Applied Arts Department at Bonita High School. Throughout his career, Dr. McGarvey has been a mentor teacher and a leader in training teachers on how to more effectively use technology to support teaching and learning. In addition to his work for the school district, Dr. McGarvey has taught graduate courses in Educational Technology for Azusa Pacific University and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. 

The highlight of his career at San Dimas High was the opportunity to develop an integrated Freshmen CORE program. In this interdisciplinary curriculum, a team of four teachers (Math, Science, History and English) developed cross-curricular projects that integrated the use of technology. The program was run as a school within a school and the teachers had complete control of 150 freshmen students for the first four hours of the school day. The CORE students participated in a yearlong interdisciplinary project about water and its effect on the environment culminating in a camping trip where students toured Mono Lake using video cameras, digital and still cameras and journals to document their findings. Students researched, planned, prepared and presented an award winning web page demonstrating their knowledge and understanding of the issues relating to preserving Mono Lake.

At Bonita High School, Dr. McGarvey developed the curriculum for a new computer design program. The students in the program have the choice of taking introductory and advanced courses in graphic design, web design, and game design. The focus of the program is the application of art and design principles to digital photography, web page creation, and computer game development.

It was during his time at Bonita that Dr. McGarvey defended his dissertation, entitled “Blackboard vs. MySpace: Tracing Urban Adolescent Identities and Literacy Practices within Class and out-of Class Online Communities.  

This connective case study traced the identity formations and literacy practices of six adolescents from a small urban high school while they interacted within their Learning Management System (LMS) and Social Network Site (SNS). Blackboard (LMS) and MySpace (SNS) became an indispensable part of the participants' social and academic lives. They used their SNS and LMS to form and experiment with their identity, practice multiple identities, and to express future aspirations. They also demonstrated various social and academic literacies including the ability to navigate and manage complex social relationships and to critically analyze texts by interacting with others within their academic environment. The adolescents chose to use a SNS that appeared to reproduce their social and racial divisions online and used mobile devices to stay constantly connected to MySpace and Blackboard. All of the participants had access to the Internet outside of school, yet some lacked the academic skills or social capital necessary to use the technologies for meaningful social and academic practices.

For the past year, Dr. McGarvey has been interested in applying what he has learned from his research to his own practice. The first issue was to update Bonita’s LMS to be more accessible to mobile phones. Mobile phones have become integrated with adolescent lifestyles, an extension of how they express their identities to the world, and the lens through which they learn about the world, yet most schools' online resources are inaccessible to students through their phones. In addition, Dr. McGarvey has started a staff development program to train at least one member from each department on how to use the school’s LMS. His long-term goal is to develop personal learning environments (PLE) for students and staff. The PLE will allow learners to take control and manage their own learning separate from the context of an individual course. Students will be able to use the PLE as a digital portfolio and a means to organize their learning as they complete their senior projects.

Since the completion of his dissertation, Dr. McGarvey has enjoyed being able to spend more time with his family and to work on some long neglected hobbies including playing the drums and bicycling. This past year he has volunteered as a Cub Scout Webelos leader for his son’s den, camped in the redwoods, and started learning how to play guitar.