By Jody Pfister
The MSD of Mount Vernon invited staff to participate in the February 6th National Digital Learning Day. Eighty-five staff members (52 percent) met the challenge to try ‘one new thing’ using technology. New endeavors ranged from simple , such as attaching a picture to an email, to week-long projects, such as MVHS Math teacher Beth Walters created.
Walters’ ambitious project introduced her students to a variety of e-Learning tools. Monday, she used a combination of a flipchart on the whiteboard and eDucreations to create an answer key to a worksheet for her Algebra 2 class. The class checked the worksheet using eDucreations on Walter’s webpage, which students accessed with iPads. Then, her Algebra students used Quizlet on their iPads to take vocabulary quizzes. Tuesday, Walters created a self-paced ActivExpressions Chapter Review for Geometry. Students used iPads to access diagrams and choices. Then using individual handheld “voters” in a program called ActivExpressions, students were able to answer the questions on-line viewing how the tally of each answer stacked up in a bar graph. (Imagine the TV show “So You Want to Be a Millionaire’s” one life-line showing the audience’s choice for an answer in bar graph form!) To round out the week, Walter’s plan was to use Nearpod to make a review for Algebra 2 with Math Lab and to introduce the students to MangaHigh, an online program for math games.
MVHS Coach and Science teacher Paul Quizner used Weebly to create a colorful, interactive textbook chapter in Earth Science on density, gas laws, and changes in matter. With Weebly, Quinzer included slides with text and pictures, vocabulary word documents, and chapter notes.
Mary Feagley’s Honors English 9 students have been reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Every week, a different student creates a blog post pertaining to the novel, English, or education in general. Other students then respond to this blog post, creating opportunities for individual and group discussion.
Mrs. York, MVJHS teacher, is creating a Facebook page for “Mrs. York’s Class” with photos from class lessons, homework reminders, links to videos to help reinforce skills taught that day in class, and Challenge questions that students can answer for prizes. York is using this as a way to build on what is taught in class to keep students thinking about the lesson even after the bell rings. Likewise, MVJHS Physical Education teacher Kim Hindman created a YouTube video (and posted it on Facebook and Twitter) of her PE class using the Nintendo Wii for Digital Learning Day.
Julie Jackson (West Elementary 5th grade teacher) and Farmersville teacher Jackie Thomas used the Capstone myON Reader program which houses thousands of on-line children’s books for reading. Capstone myON Reader allows students to test comprehension after reading, keeps track of the titles of books each student reads, and allows students (and families) to read books on-line at home since it is a web-based program. Users may even use Capstone for reading on many smart phones allowing for access to a library virtually anywhere one can receive a cell signal.
MVJHS teachers Julie Kissinger and Pam O’Risky participated in a collaborative project. Their sixth grade classes Skyped with kindergarten classes sharing interpretive readings of various children’s picture books. Kindergarten classes at Marrs (Mrs. Bowen and Mrs. Russell) and at Farmersville (Mrs. Jones) enjoyed not only hearing their older peers read to them but could see them via Skype on the whiteboard. Both kindergarteners and sixth graders also shared two-way dialogue about the book selections shared via Skype.
All MSD administrators participated in the Digital Learning Day activities. Dr. Tom Kopatich created a new Twitter account. Farmersville Principal David Frye worked with Kidspiration in Connie Upshaw’s first grade classroom creating community maps of Mount Vernon. MVHS Principal Tom Russell extended his use of Dropbox from just receiving documents to learning to place documents into Dropbox. Director of Curriculum and Testing Jody Pfister downloaded an iPad app to manage all of her passwords. Jerad Shockley, MVJHS Assistant Principal, has used Evernote as a technology tool allowing him to bring a “to do” list and other documents everywhere on his smartphone and iPad for easy access. Shockley plans to use his iPad for notes to become as paperless as possible.
Dr. Matthew Rebeck, Assistant Director of Posey County Special Services, chose to use Google.docs to create a YouTube video to communicate with both MSD of North Posey and MSD of Mt. Vernon special services employees on procedures related to Individual Education Plans for students with disabilities. Through the video series, teachers will be able to stay current on Federal IDEA legislation on both ends of the county.
Technology was also used to let one Marrs Elementary class go global. Cynthia Oxley and her 26 first graders Skyped with her sister Karen Mercer and Mercer’s kindergarten class 22 kindergartners in Guadalajara, Mexico. The students participated in a question and answer time to learn about class subjects, lunches, school transportation and weather in the two countries. The classes plan to Skype again on holidays to learn how each country celebrates.
The Digital Leaning Day national campaign was designed to celebrate innovative teaching using technology that makes learning more engaging for students while building the skills they need to succeed in college, career, and life.
By Jody Pfister
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