Grantee Corner | Technology in the Classroom
Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grantees often use funds to integrate technology into learning. These stories from three grantees show how technology is changing the way magnet teachers and students teach, learn, and communicate.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Miami-Dade County Public Schools uses MSAP funds to support technology initiatives at BioTECH @ Richmond Heights 9-12, the nation’s only conservation biology magnet high school. Here, campus-wide technology integration aligns with the magnet theme and promotes a sustainable, paperless environment that facilitates digital collaboration and communication.
BioTECH employs innovative Discovery Techbooks™ in place of traditional textbooks. The digital books feature rich media that can be differentiated for students with varying educational needs. BioTECH teachers assign material based on a students’ individual reading ability. By providing background knowledge and context, these Techbooks™ have proven useful in tailoring learning for English language learners and students with reading deficiencies. BioTECH’s use of this innovative technology encourages collaboration between diverse groups of students with varying abilities.
BioTECH has an elaborate transportation system to move students among three campuses across an 11-mile area. To effectively communicate with parents, students, and teachers across this area, BioTECH uses Google Apps for Education’s free tools to facilitate learning. These tools enable students and faculty to access email and communication tools such as Google Hangouts via any platform, supporting access to real-time information anytime and from anywhere. To ensure access to their accounts, students use school-issued tablets with lifetime accounts that include unlimited drive space to store files and projects. In addition, Google Classroom provides teachers with the ability to create, share, and grade assignments. Assignments and classroom announcements are immediately sent as alerts to all registered students, and are automatically added to a student’s digital calendar.
Seminole County Public Schools
Hamilton Elementary School in Florida’s Seminole County Public Schools is developing creative thinkers and connecting with students’ individual interests and talents, all while having fun. Integration of cutting-edge technology, such as robotics and coding, encourages appropriate risk taking and captures student imaginations to create deep thinkers. The school’s robotics lab offers the opportunity to solve problems and purposefully awaken students’ sense of wonder. Students work together on missions such as using robots to avoid asteroids while traveling to a distant planet, or ensuring human survival in space.
Connecting students with their world in ways that are personally meaningful and relevant is the cornerstone of the school’s 21st century program. Whether producing computer code in SCRATCH to create and share animations, or programming Dash robots for world travel, students exercise creativity and critical thinking. They become creators and producers, not just consumers, of content. By engaging students with exciting, meaningful experiences, Hamilton teachers support the development of core knowledge and skills while helping children discover the joy, excitement, and mystery of learning.
Wichita Public Schools
The central focus of the MSAP schools in Wichita Public Schools is to place technology in the hands of all students in grades K-8, seamlessly linking the everyday curriculum to technology applications. Students have daily access to tools such as iPADs, smart boards, video conferencing, Chromebooks, laptops, broadcasting and videoconferencing equipment, and much more. The technology integration model encourages students to create and learn using technology.
Teachers are trained in and encouraged to use the four-level Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition (SAMR) model to help evaluate their technology integration and infuse technology into teaching and learning. Teachers strive to use technology at the Modification and Redefinition levels, where learning is truly transformed. Research shows that within these two levels, students solve real-world problems and connect with experts, leading to rigorous instruction.
Visitors to Wichita’s MSAP schools are welcomed with animated digital signage that tells the school’s story through a display of student work, school events, the school’s morning news broadcasts, and more. Flat screen TVs in front of each classroom continuously rotate photos of student work, art, and projects. In the classrooms, students work on projects such as coding on their iPads using Code.org, and using WeDo Lego robotics to integrate the four areas of STEM and core subjects such as English language arts.
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