CLASSROOM 21 | by Greg Limperis
I’ve been lucky enough in my new position this year to see the power technology can play in transforming education. Thanks to a huge investment by our district in interactive whiteboard equipment, document cameras, student response systems and interactive slates, classrooms across the district have been transformed. We have rolled out nearly two million dollars in new equipment. I started in August and, for the last five months, we have worked on getting teachers all the right wires, we’ve solved problems—and most importantly—we have offered training.
I hear it daily as I go into a school. The equipment has transformed classrooms, it has improved engagement, and student discipline is down. Teachers have naturally started off using the document camera—it’s what they’ve been able to associate with most. The teachers are already familiar with overheads—now they’re finding out that this new overhead is so much more.
They’re finding out that they can’t live without this new equipment. Some have started to incorporate the other tools as well. There are classroom everywhere that are producing interactive lessons projected onto their whiteboards and students are starting to get to be that teacher. They are heading to the front of the class and doing something that some of them have never done before: they are engaging in their learning.
For some, these lessons are even being tied into their student response systems. Students who, in the past, weren’t being heard—are now giving their their input. Teachers are passing the slate pad around the room and students are interacting with their learning on the board in a whole new way. They are engaging.
I am out at schools daily either helping with equipment issues or training staff. This is transforming the staff as well. They are realizing that they have another resource at their disposal. They have built-in help. They call—and I come! I am joining them in their team planning meetings. I am training them after school. Some are volunteering to stick around and get better at using this equipment.
When I go into these schools to help teachers, this is typical of what I hear: “I no longer photo copy anything.” “I have some of the toughest kids and they beg me not to turn the equipment off and promise to not misbehave.”
The equipment is re-igniting the passion in my teachers.
Could we be doing more? Sure.
Are the lessons all as interactive and dynamic as I would like to see them? No.
Thanks to the equipment, we are transforming our schools, teaching and learning. We’re purchasing netbooks. We’re installing wireless hotspots in order to make schools wireless. Teachers are starting to bring their own equipment. Tablets are popping up everywhere.
We’re now starting to do walkthroughs with a focus on technology use. The students, teachers and administrators in our schools and our district are all moving into the 21st century. It has been five months and things are different.
You can feel it. You can see it.
There are still classrooms without this equipment. I am getting calls often asking if we have more of it for classes who do not have it. We are now starting to plan for our next phase. It’s exciting to think where we will go next. How can we get better at incorporating other technology we already have? How can we transform our schools even more? What will this mean for our chronically underperforming students? Will it help prepare so many of them who struggle to pass the state mandated standardized test? Only time will tell, but I can’t wait to see just what this transformation will bring about.
Greg Limperis, now Supervisor of Instructional Technology for his district, was recently the Middle School Technology Facilitator in Lawrence, Mass., and founded the very popular Technology Integration in Education professional learning network, reaching thousands of educators worldwide. He has shared with others what he knows and they have joined him in sharing their insights as well. Join them in bringing about change using your 21st century skills. Visit: http://www.technologyintegrationineducation.com
It’s encouraging to read what your schools are experiencing. A technology, obvious by it’s not being mentioned, is amplified learning, yet most students spend over half of their day listening. I have wondered for a long time why amplification is often bypassed. My experience has been that the response of teachers and students using amplified learning is positive and immediate. Even first graders will remind their teachers to turn on their microphones. For those of you out there who are experienced school techs, teachers, audiologists… could you suggest why audio technology is not prioritized as much as the visual technology? Thx.