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Technology camp takes new direction

WORTHINGTON -- A world inundated with technology requires it to be utilized the right way, and that is exactly what Worthington School District is trying to achieve.

District 518 has been privileged to be technologically-equipped, but now is taking steps to use the technology in the most-effective manner. After almost 11 years, the school district is hosting its fifth installment of technology camp.

The two-day camp started Wednesday with a handpicked group of 12 district staff members representing Prairie Elementary, Worthington Middle School, Worthington High School and Area Learning Center.

Participants are Becky Duehn, Chad Kremer, Clasine Lester, Josh Noble, Alyssa Hietbrink, Becca McGaughey, Micaela Massey, Brad Grimmius, Tierney Zwijack and Maggie Kraemer.

"District 518 has good technology resources for our teachers and our students, but I think we can use them more interactively with our students," said Maggie Kraemer, District 518 library media specialist.

Previous camps were geared more toward how to operate equipment.

Based on a "Train-the-Trainer" model, the essence of this year's program is to capture how technology can be embedded into the content of lesson plans. Kraemer stressed the importance of prioritizing content, among other things.

Staff members, identified as technology "enthusiasts," were selected by their respective school principals. They will serve as a think tank for the district. As the camp wraps up today, participants will create a collection of lesson plans from information they've garnered. In turn, they will be able to train their colleagues.

"The key is understanding interactive tools and re-thinking how we learn," explained guest presenter Ryan Cox. "The idea of what a classroom resource is, is changing."

Currently, SMART Boards and iPod Touch are the two primary tools used throughout the local schools. The district is looking to expand the use of technology gadgets to iPads.

Becky Duehn, first-grade teacher for English Language Learner (ELL) students, has used iPod Touch in her classroom for the past two years.

"Right now it is (for students) being able to read the iBooks on them and doing activities with vocabulary and spelling," she said.

Cox, who is St. Cloud Area schools' technology curriculum integrationist, will work with teachers on various tools and resources, including podcasts and iTunes U.

Hands-on activities will involve creating books and digital project-based learning for both teachers and students.

"Worthington's willingness to explore this topic is amazing," Cox said.