Technology enhances learning at Prairie ElementaryWORTHINGTON — Throughout the past years, teachers have changed how they guide their students’ learning. When you walk into a classroom today, you will see among familiar things many different things you may not have seen before.
By: By Chad Kremer and Zachary Dingmann, District 518, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Throughout the past years, teachers have changed how they guide their students’ learning. When you walk into a classroom today, you will see among familiar things many different things you may not have seen before. You might even ask, “What is that?”, “How does that work?”, “Where can I get that?” or “I wish I had that when I was in school.” The fourth-grade teachers at Prairie Elementary are diligently exploring new frontiers of technology in the classroom to engage and enhance student learning. In addition to online resources, teachers are using document cameras, I-technology and interactive media. Teachers today almost need to be computer specialists as well as instructional specialists.
In a Prairie Elementary classroom, you might see a teacher using a document camera. The document camera is a camera used to project an image (a book, drawing, student work, planner) on the wall so students can easily view the image. This tool allows the entire class to view the image simultaneously, saving time previously spent passing something around student to student. Saving time allows the teachers a chance to show more examples. The cameras have a zoom to enhance any particular area of the image, making larger or smaller. Students can easily see a part in a book or a worksheet and then follow along. A teacher can also demonstrate what they want students to do, reducing the amount of confusion for students. The cameras are additionally helpful for students who are English learners, supporting their learning with visual clues.
Another enhancement for instruction comes from I-technology. You may have heard of an iPod touch or iPad and think it is only for listening to music or playing silly games, but that is not the case. IPads and iPods hold a toolbox for teachers and students. These devices have math, reading, science, social studies and art programs. There are more than 15,000 applications or tools for education to download on the devices. The iPads and iPods make it easy for teachers to hold spontaneous small group computer activities in the classroom instead of moving a computer lab into the classroom or bringing the entire class to the lab. Teachers can also track data on the devices, individualizing to each student and their needs. The devices can record and play back the students’ readings. Together the student and teacher can then evaluate how the student is reading by comparing earlier readings to past readings. Using this process, the students can hear how they are progressing.
Perhaps one of the most common innovations seen at Prairie is interactive media. Every day, teachers use smart boards and LCD projectors. They bring learning to life by allowing the teachers to incorporate animations, sounds and other 3D interactions. The students can drag and drop a word or picture into the correct place by using their finger. Students do not shy away from coming up to the board; they are excited to show the class what they know. Using the projectors, teachers can also implement online educational videos to enhance learning by a simple touch of the finger on the smart board. One particular site that is very effective is Learn 360, a database of online videos that is easily accessible to teachers. It has content that covers all subject areas in education.
Teaching is a science; technology is a science. The fourth-grade Team at Prairie Elementary is doing wonders to bring both sciences together. Every child has a chance to grow into self-motivated, life-long learners in a technological world. All teachers at Prairie Elementary have access and are using the tools presented in this article to enhance the education of their students. We welcome you to come and see all the wonderful things available for students at Prairie Elementary.
Chad Kremer and Zachary Dingmann are fourth-grade teachers at Prairie Elementary.