Kyle School – Teaching with Technology
In 2012-2013, each school in the Sun West School Division developed school-wide technology goals that were designed to meet the needs of their staff and students. Lead technology teachers worked closely with their school-based Administrator to survey staff in the fall to assess the highest need related to technology. Following the survey, a plan was put into place to support teachers throughout the year.
In Kyle School, under the direction of Lead teacher and Administrator, Marlene Gillanders, each staff member focused on a particular technology tool that they best felt would suit their classroom needs.
Supporting teachers in learning more about how to use technology effectively in the classroom is as important as providing the tools themselves. So Marlene regularly made staff aware of any professional development opportunities related to the various tools selected. The Sun West curriculum team also put together a series of “how to” videos and links on our Supporting Technology wiki to help teachers understand the basics of operating various tools. By using the videos, teachers in Kyle and throughout the Division now have the flexibility to learn any time, in any place.
Kyle, like most schools in Sun West, has a SMARTBoard in every classroom – so the challenge for teachers was to find new and innovative ways to engage students in using this tool to improve learning. Essentially, teachers wanted to find ways to allow students to interact with curriculum content through the use of the board.
To accomplish this, the Grades 1, 2, and 3 students used the SMARTBoard daily in their morning meeting routine. The SMARTBoard was also used in all subject areas, utilizing various interactive media files contained in the SMART notebook software.
SMARTBoard Jeopardy was a hit with Grades 4, 5, and 6 students who used the interactive game for review. In math, teachers developed activities with manipulatives so students could engage in hands-on learning activities.
The SMARTBoard gave Media Studies 20 students quick access to viewing YouTube videos, advertisements, and documentaries that pertained to the learning outcomes. Projecting the student handouts on the SMARTBoard also benefitted visual learners.
In addition to SMARTBoard use, teachers in Kyle were interested in learning how to best use blogs to support their students. In November, the staff participated in an online presentation about blogging during an in-school professional development day. For most teachers, this was their first experience with a “virtual presentation” and I was excited to showcase Bridgit, the online meeting platform used by Sun West.
This tool allows presenters to share information while also encouraging interactivity through the use of the “raise hand” feature. Teachers in Kyle were able to stop and ask for clarification throughout the presentation, just as in a face-to-face workshop. Following the presentation, teachers spent time exploring blogs created by other teachers and had discussions on how to best implement this tool in their classrooms.
In ELA 30, the teacher used a blog for a Lord of the Flies novel study. Instead of classroom discussion, students were able to respond to others electronically. This gave the students who were less likely to contribute in class an equal voice. IP 10 students also explored blogs as a communication tool.
Students in ELA B10 had an opportunity to use their smartphones into the class. To quickly cultivate background knowledge, the students searched a particular topic on their devices rather than heading down to the computer lab. In five minutes, they were able to learn a dozen facts about the Japanese Evacuation and Internment Camps without having to boot-up a single computer!
During Macbeth, the same class made use of Twitter where students summarized scenes or a particular point of view in 140 characters or less, modernizing an old text and manipulating language in a creative format.
In Kindergarten, iPads helped students learn vowel sounds and but as importantly, these students practiced social interaction skills such as taking turns. Another teacher made use of online sites such as Bitstrips and Prezi as a way for students to showcase their learning in a digital format.
The Kyle staff acknowledges that they would like to continue to move forward on using technology tools as a vehicle for improving learning and engagement next school year. But in reflecting on this year, it is clear that students in this rural community have been given many opportunities to be 21st century learners.
Thanks to Marlene Gillanders for providing information about Kyle School’s technology learning journey this year. To view the complete summary, check out the Supporting Technology wiki.