Aug 10, 2012

The Innovative Primary Classroom...New Technology, New Experiences

In May 2012, I was contacted by our district's Education Foundation director, Krista Hertz, asking to assist in a classroom grant project. A teacher in my technology staff development program had written a grant (for a few iPads) that caught the attention of a consistent donor to the Foundation. He was so impressed, he wanted to personally fund her project. He also wanted to interview her and see if she would be able to do more in her classroom if she was not limited to the $1000 maximum grant amount.  

Our Donor, Our Hero 
Tom Wardell is a donor to the Foundation and funds Classroom Grants in his parents' memory, Harry & Alta Mae Wardell. Mr. Wardell has been a steady supporter of Billing's teachers and their efforts to provide the best education possible for students. He has provided funding to classroom projects in Billings that illustrate innovative teaching and learning ideas.  

One Innovative Teacher
Courtney Niemeyer is a primary teacher who has been involved in my technology staff development program (TILT) for two years. This amazing young woman has so many ideas, I get dizzy just thinking about it. When Courtney was asked what she wanted to do...if funding was not an is her answer.  

When asked, "what would you really like to do?" Courtney answered: 
My goal is to empower children with learning and to show them that their thoughts and opinions have an audience and can evoke change.  I not only want my students to be prepared for an ever-changing, ever-advancing world, I want them to be contributors.

I get some funny looks when I talk so idealistically about six year olds; however, I know it is possible.  Technology has transformed society and it can do the same for our children’s learning. 
Using tools like ipads and ipods, QR codes, and an interactive whiteboard, kids can be self-directed learners.  Students can access, analyze, interpret, use, and share information and data.  

Take, for example, the QR book review project.  In the project students have to read, analyze, and summarize books.  Then, they have to form an opinion to write and perform for their recommendation video.  Once the book review video is made and the QR code is attached to the book, we are able to watch the circulation of the books to see if their opinions increased the check out rate of the books.  We have found already that many students have been watching the different reviews.  We will be able to see at the end of the year library inventory if the books were in fact checked out more because their reviews.  Has their learning contributed to a change? Have they made an impact?  We are anxious to see!   

Of course, with two ipads we were only able to get about 25 review projects complete.  With a funding opportunity, I could expand this project and other innovative ideas to enhance learning in my classroom.

 What activities would you be doing? 
Taking and editing video, syncing ipad and ipod devices, creating ibooks, designing interactive whiteboard lessons, video conferencing and allowing other teachers to watch lessons remotely, blogging classroom events, making QR codes, and more. 

The "and more" part is what scares me! Not really! Courtney has been researching and cataloging ideas and resources all summer in her new favorite tool - PINTEREST.  

She has a collection of sites categorized under Clever Classroom. This category is filled with teaching strategies, center activities and lots of lesson ideas.

Techie Teach is a great collection of teaching with technology ideas! I know we will be doing these activities and more based on these ideas!

Courtney even has a category for Back to School preparation! Man, this lady can be intimidating!

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