Tech in the classroom continues to grow

Over the past decade, teachers and school administrators have become increasingly interested in the benefits of using technology in the classroom.

Here’s how some schools are turning interest into action:

In Indiana, elementary school students are learning the basics of being fit and healthy through technology. Fifth-graders from Morton Elementary School are participating in a program called “Take 5 for Life” created by Community Hospital Fitness Pointe. The program focuses on five key components: eating healthy, being active, managing your mind by drug and alcohol abstinence, being well-rested and feeling good about yourself. As part of the program, the fifth-graders wear Fitbit wristbands which keep track of their steps and calories burned throughout the day. Students can then connect their wristbands to a computer to keep track of their daily activity, set and reach goals, as well as log daily food intake. This program, which has reached a total of 3,000 students, has made health and fitness a fun topic for students to learn about.
New York is one of 29 states that doesn’t count computer science courses toward graduation credits, but Sam Brody is trying to change that. Brody lives in Malone and has started a program called “Code Yonkers” that teaches students how to read and write computer coding. The program began in the summer at the Yonkers Public Library. As a pilot, it included about 12 middle-school students and lasted six weeks. Eventually, he hopes to incorporate Code Yonkers as an after-school program at 40 public schools in Yonkers.
A North Carolina school recently used Skype to learn in the classroom. Fifth-graders at Eaton Elementary School recently took a tour of the only undersea laboratory in the world — Aquarius — and Skype allowed them to do so. Fabien Cousteau is one of several researchers who live at the laboratory, located off the coast of Florida. In addition to spending about 12 hours in the water each day, he and the rest of the research team connect with classrooms all over the world using Skype. The fifth-graders were able to ask him questions about his research and what it’s like to live underwater, while watching all kinds of sea creatures swim in the background.
Texas schools continue to incorporate laptops and computers in daily lessons. McKinney ISD will spend $8.4 million by the end of 2018 to buy and maintain 8,400 Apple laptops for high schools students. The program is called “One 2 the World” and will eventually lead to less reliance on traditional textbooks and computer labs. After studying issues other schools had when incorporating such technology, school administrators have learned some important lessons. Teachers will be trained prior to rolling out the devices, and a few students from each grade will also receive training to become “ambassadors” of the program. In addition to training, the district is hiring several technology experts to help with any issues that may arise.
A Virginia school district will also be purchasing laptops for students in an effort to encourage blended learning. Chesterfield County Public Schools will be purchasing 32,475 Chromebooks this school year in the hopes that students will have the opportunity to direct their own learning through online, web-based applications. Similar to McKinney ISD, the district was aware of the problems other schools faced when rolling out such a large program, so several steps were taken before committing. The district conducted several pilots to determine which device would be best, what training would be needed and what barriers might arise.

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