Electronic readers and tablets being phased in to supplement textbooks
Just as interactive white boards have replaced chalk boards in some Mexico school classrooms, electronic readers and tablets are being phased in to supplement textbooks in many classrooms.
Teachers are incorporating the electronics as ways of meeting students where they are in technology.
"As an educator, technology is important to include in the classroom because we are teaching students who were born with technology and are using it in some way at home," Katie Lehnen, Hawthorne kindergarten teacher, said.
In her classroom, Lehnen uses an iPad during literacy stations. "There are many applications that are educational," she said. "Currently, my students are working on letter identification, sounds and letter formation. My students are using 'Elmo loves ABC.' This app combines these skills in a fun way with a well-known character, using music and videos to reinforce the letter names and sounds."
An iPad, a tablet computer made by Apple, can shoot videos, take photos, play music, and access the Internet. While some students have this kind of technology at home, others do not. Having the devices in the classroom evens the field for all children.
"Being able to use technology in the classroom expands students' horizons and keeps them engaged in lessons on a newer and deeper level," Lauren Mattson, Mexico Middle School teacher, said. "Each student asks to read and research far more often with the addition of these technological pieces. Student engagement and involvement in each lesson is no longer just about understanding, but rather about gaining comprehension and delving deeper into topics."
Recently, Mattson's eighth grade English Language Arts students used Chromebooks to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech via YouTube. Each student took notes electronically during the speech, which Mattson could monitor in real time. Students then drafted their own "I Have a Dream" speech pertaining to their generation.
"Students wrote about littering, drunk driving, drugs, respect and bullying, among other topics," Mattson said. They used the Chromebooks to research facts for speeches they gave, which will then be used in song lyrics, photographs and famous quotes to make one cohesive poster. The posters will be made incorporating the technology, and scanned images will be shown on the SMART Board screen to show peers what inspires them.
Mattson also uses the small laptop computers, which are designed to run completely on the Internet with no installation of programs, only applications found online, in sixth and eighth grade Comprehension Invertention classes. "We use the Chromebooks to journal, research famous events and people, listen to videos to show new understanding of topics, and even share presentation ideas with others," she said. "The computers offer an incredible amount of resources at our fingertips."
Two MHS teachers, Sara Given and Laura Loudenslager, share a classroom set of Chromebooks. "Technology use continues to grow and evolve and I firmly believe students who graduate from MHS must be technologically literate," Loudenslager said. "I have been using an online website with my French classes on which every assessment is done, giving students immediate feedback about their test as well as providing students an opportunity to make test corrections."
Given plans to use the Chromebooks to administer quizzes in her speech, theatre design and advanced theatre/performance classes. "The students take the quiz, then all the answers go to my computer, with the student responses sorted by question and by student," she said. "This then becomes a paperless activity."
Loudenslager also uses the Chromebooks to make her Competitive Speech and Debate class totally paperless. "All research and writing of debate cases can be done using the Chromebooks," she said. "This means debate partners can work together to write a case without having to physically be in the same location, they can each use the Internet to do their part."
Another advantage of Chromebook use is the built-in web camera. "Students use the camera to film themselves practicing for their individual competition events such as Original Oratory, or while giving a practice Extemporaneous Speech," Loudenslager said. "Overall, students today are so in tune to technology that not using it in schools seems odd to them."