“February 5 is Digital Learning Day in America,” proclaims the website for the Center for Digital Learning and Policy, a division of the Alliance for Excellent Education.
“EVERY DAY in Shenandoah County Public Schools is a digital learning day,” exclaimed Tim Taylor with a smile. “We make the Digital Learning Day folks happy,” he added. Tim Taylor is the Supervisor of Instructional Technology for Shenandoah County Public Schools.
“We use Digital Learning Day as an opportunity to highlight how our teachers are using technology to improve student learning. Digital Learning Day also provides a chance for me to encourage those teachers who are not using digital resources to take the initiative to get started. As I said, in Shenandoah County Public Schools digital learning is already an everyday event. Not every teacher has taken the plunge, but the numbers are growing.”
Central High School teachers Barbara Derflinger and Meredith Bauserman used technology, for example, to “flip” their chemistry classroom. Through a vodcast (video podcast) or through teacher-created DVD’s, students learned content for chemistry outside of the classroom leaving valuable class time for labs and other hands-on, problem solving activities. The use of technology to re-locate the presentation of teacher or textbook information from the classroom to home increases class time for valuable projects that require students to think critically and creatively. And, to make the experience even better, the teacher is there in the classroom with time to help individual students when they “get stuck.”
Peter Muhlenberg Middle School Grade 7 teachers and Rebecca Coffman, Instructional Technology Resource teacher, are piloting the use of Google Apps and Chromebooks in the classroom. Today’s students are “digitalnatives” --- students who have grown up using technology from childhood. These students learn best when instruction involves what they know best—technology!
PMMS was the proud recipient of 200 Chromebooks, which have provided students access to technology and tools they can use anytime, anywhere in many different classes. The Chromebooks and Google tools are helping bridge the gap between the way students live and the way students learn.
Tim Taylor listed some of the technology available for teachers to use to enhance their instruction on a daily basis. Most elementary teachers’ classrooms have SMART Boards, which many teachers use every day. All of our schools have computer labs and carts of laptops providing opportunities for students and teachers to take advantage of the wide variety of tools on the Internet such as Glogster, which is an online poster maker; Wikispaces Classroom, which is a writing workspace where teachers and students can communicate and work on writing projects individually or in teams; and there are all of the Google Apps, which give students in grades four through twelve access to email, calendars, blogs, and online documents. “Of course,” said Tim Taylor, “our eventual goal is having a device for every student every day. In order to access the many digital resources out there, every student needs a device in their hands.”
Tim Taylor will be making the rounds of Shenandoah County Public Schools on Wednesday, February 5, looking for students and teachers celebrating Digital Learning Day. He is sure to find some exciting lessons.
***Lisa Gibson, School Librarian, has invited The Technology Zoo from the Shenandoah County Public Library to visit the Stonewall Jackson High School Library. Representative from the County library will display several types of eReaders and tablets that the students can ask questions about. Lisa promote County library cards and show students how easy it is to get eBooks from the County library website.
***Donna Jerome, School Librarian, will unveil W.W. Robinson’s Capstone Digital Interactive E-Books for students, teachers, and parents to use. This collection includes 61 titles which are accessible on computers or iPads.
***Valerie Fawley, Technology Teacher, reports that WW Robinson students will view an Internet Safety video since this week is also Internet Safety Week. Valerie will produce a video of Digital Learning Day activities for Shentel's Channel 8.
***Danielle Green’s art students at North Fork Middle School will be using computers to create digital art.
***Kat Staton, Technology Teacher at Ashby-Lee Elementary School, reports that her fourth and fifth graders will use Glogster to create a digital poster about Digital Citizenship and Internet Safety. Parents will be able to view the students’ posters on Facebook.
***Heather Ashley’s technology students at Signal Knob Middle School are also learning about Digital Citizenship. They’ve completed a series of computer modules on the Internet giving them a real life experience in digital learning. On Digital Learning Day, they’ll receive their certificates.
*** Herb Wilburn, School Librarian at Sandy Hook Elementary School, wrote “We are working collaboratively with Denise Orndorff using the 4th and 5th graders new email addresses. I have set up Alexandria [library software] to automatically email the students in these grades when they have an overdue book. We're using this to talk about best practice with email and the library. We are teaching the fifth graders to log into Alex from home to check their circ status and to create saved lists of books they might be interested in reading.”
***Carol McFarland's third, fourth, and fifth grade GATE students at Sandy Hook Elementary School are using Gloster.com to create online posters for their presentations on Norse mythology.
***Tara Dean's Biology and Ecology classes at Strasburg High School are participating in a weekly blog that can be accessed using QR codes. Students can also access Mrs. Dean's Virtual Classroom using a QR code where they can have access to Powerpoints, videos, and assignments to help them further understand topics taught in the classroom..
And, Peter Muhlenberg with all of those Chromebooks will have a very special day: All of the lessons listed below are from teachers at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School.
**Students in the Global Connections Class will be researching and preparing proposals for an expedition to Mars. They will have to decide which type of mission they want to do: manned versus unmanned, one way versus round trip. They will be using sites from NASA and Discovery Education to help them make decisions.
***In the Life Sciences class, students will continue their study of adaptations. YouTube videos will be utilized as discussion starters, and students will share their views and findings via the classroom blog.
***Seventh Grade history students will watch a slide show and collaborate with a partner using a Google doc and their GAFE accounts as they find and use information, pictures, and video to learn about westward expansion and new inventions of the early 1900s.
***Seventh graders will use their Chromebooks to access Google forms to complete a vocabulary exam (graded with Flubaroo), will practice using words in context on Spelling City, and will complete their daily warm-ups using Google docs.
***Agriculture students at Peter Muhlenberg will use the Socrative app on iPods. Socrative is a smart student response system. As a second system begins, this app will be used to assess the prior knowledge of students.
With technology in the hands of caring, knowledgeable teachers, it seems that in the world of technology, Shenandoah County Public Schools is well on its way “to infinity and beyond”!