Classroom Success Stories
It can be hard to get students going first thing in the morning, but for students of Jen Kosarych, mornings are one of the most engaging times of the day.
A Kindergarten teacher at Forest Grove Elementary School in Montour School District, Mrs. Kosarych started utilizing interactive whiteboard technology for morning announcements. “Each morning, a student is picked to go up to the board. He or she is responsible for teaching the class the current day of the week, the number of days since the beginning of the school year, and other information of daily significance.”
Jeff Maple has always been one to put technology into the hands of students. But when the outcome of that integration is a fully functioning electric guitar, that hits the sweet spot of engagement with technology and curriculum.
A degreed technology educator and an architectural designer by trade, Mr. Maple has introduced the elective ‘Engineering Design’ into the offering at Pine-Richland High School. In this year-long course, students use 3D modeling software to design and produce the body of an electric guitar which must be both unique and musically functional. Once the guitars have been finalized, they use the in-house CNC router to precisely shape their final product. From there, they assemble their guitar bodies to purchased guitar kits and add a few aesthetic finishing touches.
One of the more frequently asked questions at Parent Night is, 'How can I stay in tune with the material my child is learning in the classroom?' Mrs. Cynthia Chisholm, a Math Instructional Resource Teacher (IRT) in the El Dorado School District (El Dorado, Arkansas), saw this question as an opportunity to leverage technology beyond the classroom.
A proponent of tablets and laptops in the classroom, Mrs. Chisholm has introduced a variety of apps on these devices for review and enrichment in crucial learning areas, especially mathematics. So in preparation for parent visits to her classroom, Cynthia created a poster containing QR (Quick Response) codes which link directly to the apps students are using in her classes. Parents can scan these codes to link to and download these apps on their own devices. Once parents have access to the same apps their children are using, there is more continuity between what is being covered in the classroom and what is being reinforced at home.
Mario Carrillo is a high-energy educator as it is, but put technology in his hands, and watch out. As Department Chair of Physical Education at Miami Valley School in Dayton, Ohio, Mr. Carrillo is always seeking new ways to energize his students and engage them on different levels.
Recently, through collaboration with VARtek's Steve Garton, Director - Education and Innovation, Mr. Carrillo has been applying the concepts put forth by the Common Core State Standards, introducing 21st century learning tools into the physical education curriculum.
Anyone who follows the upcoming trends in education knows that large-scale online testing is just around the corner. After all, most states in the U.S. are currently implementing the Common Core standards, and the two major assessment consortia (PARCC and SBAC) have developed assessments that are almost entirely online.
While most schools are scrambling to implement online testing in time for those assessments, some districts are ahead of the curve. Brandon School District (in Ortonville, MI) is one of those schools that's piloting online assessments ahead of time. They recently participated in Michigan’s Educational Assessment Pilot (MEAP) program, which involved their 6th and 9th graders (267 students in total) taking Social Studies assessments online at the exact same time.
Mike Medvinsky, a music teacher in Brandon School District (Ortonville, MI), is passionate about using technology in education. When asked whether he's seen it improve student performance and achievement firsthand, his answer is short and sweet: "Yes. Both!"
While some music educators might be fearful of new technologies, Mr. Medvinsky and his students are embracing them. "There needs to be a balance between the traditional ways of being a musician and digital musicianship, where musicians use computers and mobile devices as instruments, tools, and mediums," he says. "Using digital means of music-making removes the technique barrier and enables more creative possibilities while engaging in the process of composing and improvising."
Dana Rongaus may be one of the smartest teachers you'll meet. A fifth grade math teacher at David E Williams Middle School in the Montour District (Pittsburgh, PA), Mrs. Rongaus is not only using technology to teach, she's using technology to teach students how to teach.
Julie Sippola is not your average teacher. A fifth grade science teacher at Amity Elementary School (Cincinnati, OH), she knows how to engage students at their level and get them curious about the subject material. Her secret? Technology.
When Kelly Stiles introduced the social learning network Edmodo into her classroom at the beginning of the school year, she expected it to merely be an aid for test material review. In the months since, the history and social studies teacher at Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati, OH has been delighted to see this technology take on a life of its own in the classroom.
Ask science teacher Amanda Ooten at Chaminade Julienne High School (Dayton, OH) why she likes her flipped classroom, she'll tell you 'student performance.' Ask her students why they like it, they'll tell you it's a cool way to learn.
Ask Tricia Smith's students at Linden Elementary (Hamilton City Schools, Hamilton, OH) what they think of their new classroom technology, and they'll beam with excitement. Recently, Ms. Smith introduced iPads as a learning tool into her curriculum, utilizing the devices to engage students in subjects from math to English to geography to social studies.