Column: Getting 'smart' inside Worthington's classroomsWORTHINGTON — The world is rich in technology today, reaching into all aspects of our lives. In this age of technology, schools are no different, embracing the skills and equipment necessary to educate students in this age of technology
By: Amy Ernst, District 518, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The world is rich in technology today, reaching into all aspects of our lives. In this age of technology, schools are no different, embracing the skills and equipment necessary to educate students in this age of technology. Students readily use any technology available with ease and confidence. After all, kids do not know what life was like before computers, the Internet, remote controls and cell phones.
In an effort to engage students in this world of technology and to encourage them to analyze information and think creatively, schools across the country are installing what are referred to as “smart classrooms”. A smart classroom includes an interactive white board, a mounted projector, ceiling mounted speakers and a computer. Worthington schools have approximately 75 percent of their classrooms equipped this way. With this setup, teachers and students can watch morning announcements broadcast throughout the building. Students are engaged by streaming a video through the internet, choosing which lunch choice they want by moving their name to the appropriate column on the interactive white board and electronically recording any notes written by the teacher during class. Smart classrooms allow students to become part of the educational process by working with the teacher on lessons at the interactive whiteboard. The students, using either a special pen or their finger, can write, manipulate, move or select objects on the board.
Using the components of the smart classroom, teachers and students have the opportunity to view hundreds of educational videos through online video websites. Subscription-based, these educational websites offer videos specific to age level and curriculum area, enabling teachers to download a short video clip that corresponds with the content being taught for the day. A short five-to-10 minute video can be used to support a particular concept, without taking the entire class period showing a video to get a point across on a particular topic.
ITouch devices have been introduced in the school district this year. These are similar to an iPod in which they can play back music, but can also do much more. Educational applications can be downloaded on to the iTouch for small group or individual use and is used for individualized instruction. This allows students to work at a comfortable pace, receive extra work on difficult concepts and creatively learn with a medium that is second nature to them.
To utilize the scores from state and national testing, the scores are gathered in to a new program called Assessment Data Gateway. Assessment Data Gateway brings all of the students test scores to an interface that is user friendly for teachers and administrators. Teachers can easily interpret the scores, and then address specific gaps in the student’s learning.
Worthington School District encourages the community and especially parents to share in technological opportunities. The school district offers parent portal so parents can check on their children’s schedule, grades, attendance, discipline, health information and assessment information. The district, this year, implemented the Shout Point calling system, which alerts parents when there is a weather related school event or when an announcement needs to go out to a large percentage of the populations. We have received positive feedback when we use this system. Additional information for parents, students and the community is available from the district’s website at http://www.isd518.net.
Amy Ernst is District 518’s technology director.