Educational Excellence Spotlight: Technology

Four years ago, our District started a new tech journey.  We knew there was great potential when we gave all 6th-8th graders their own iPads, each 3rd-5th grade class received five iPads to share, and we added a third iMac computer lab at La Entrada.  As students and teachers continue to integrate technology into their lessons, the “4 C’s” are coming alive:

  • Communication: Students are using apps like Schoolloop, Google Apps, Google Translate, Educreations, iMovie, to show and explain concepts to other students and their teachers.
  • Collaboration: Students share their work via Google Drive and use Air Play to project their ipads to the Smartboard for all to see. Third graders are creating educational videos using Educreations to teach each other and model concepts.
  • Creativity: Students are creating content incorporating a variety of media such as slideshows (Keynote and Google slides), movies (iMovie and Educreations), essays (Pages and Google Docs), and art (Photoshop, iDraw, and Google Draw).
  • Critical Thinking: With online assessments like Kahoot, Google Forms, Edmodo, Socrative, and Nearpod, teachers get instant feedback on student surveys and quizzes.

In the lower grades, the teachers teach the Common Core State Standards of “create engaging audio recordings of stories or poems that demonstrate fluid reading at an understandable pace” through technology. Students regularly record themselves reading and implementing metacognitive strategies, use the Dictionary.com app to learn a word’s definition and to hear how it is pronounced, and create QR codes full of video and voice recordings to complement their written work.

Thanks to the La Entrada Mac lab, today students are knee-deep in transformative elective offerings. Forget 2D…students are designing and printing 3D objects! Students enjoy using professional animation tools such as Maya and learning new languages like Python, Javascript, HTML and Java to introduce the basics of computer science and programming.

Student-run broadcasting uses industry standard tools such as iPads and Final Cut Pro X to produce school news shows that highlight events, activities and the learning taking place in classrooms all over the school.

Where to next? As we discover more about educational technology’s potential, we continue to explore other tools and methods that promote student learning. Chromebooks are being explored in the other two labs as well as ways to make the learning space more conducive towards brain-based learning. “Makerspaces” or “Fablabs” are also getting a lot attention for their potential to promote creation, invention and learning. It’s an overwhelming time, but with constant reflection and collaboration, we can make it the best time.

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