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How Teachers Can Take Advantage of Technology to Improve Instruction

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November 15, 2011 10:27 pm

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The following is a guest blog submitted by Jill Griebe, the District Literacy Coach for Eminence Independent Schools in Eminence, Kentucky, and a member of the Digital Learning Day Educator Working Group, which provides leadership on the Digital Learning Day toolkits and outreach development for teachers and administrators across the country.

To learn more about Digital Learning Day, which is February 1, 2012, visit the Digital Learning Day website.

In Eminence, Kentucky, on November 8, teachers arrived expecting a full day of professional development for Eminence Independent Schools. The agenda was full, including a working lunch. No one appeared to be happy to be there. However, as they entered the library, it was decorated with apples–on the tables, hanging from the ceiling, and lining the walls. The theme was about giving an apple to a teacher.

The Eminence Independent Schools’ superintendent, Buddy Berry, pleasantly surprised the teachers with a video collage of students expressing their love and appreciation for their teachers while holding an apple. He went on to describe how much they are appreciated by not only their students, but also by their administration. A “sweet surprise” was handed out in the form of a wrapped gift. The teachers were expecting to receive an apple pie, but what they found was an “Apple” of the best kind….a MacBook Pro laptop. There were smiles and shouting all around, even a standing ovation. To top it all off, Buddy burned the PD agenda, literally. Instead, the day was dedicated to learning how to use their new Apples.

What is the purpose of giving each teacher a laptop? As is the case for many other jobs, employees need to be able to work anywhere, including from home. The teachers at Eminence need to be given the opportunity to create awesome lessons using the best technology. In order for them to prepare students to utilize technology, they must become proficient with it first. The ultimate goal is to equip each student with 21st Century skills and to prepare them for their future, be that college or the workforce. It takes a village (a school district) to raise a child, and the Eminence administration gave each teacher another tool to assist in that process.

This is not Eminence’s first experience with new technology as it has used several technology grants to purchase a multitude of tools for teachers and students. Netbooks were purchased to serve as classroom centers throughout the middle and high school. Flip cameras have allowed the teachers and students to document learning in action. Every classroom has a Flip camera. Several interwrite dualboards (like a smartboard) were purchased, too. Other items the school district has purchased include document cameras, ceiling projectors, Smart software, iPods, iPads, and mobile computer labs.

Having all this technology is great, but if teachers aren’t trained properly, 21st century tools might never get used. As requested by the teachers at Eminence, the Literacy Team created an all-day breakout session professional development, in which the teachers trained each other. The goal was to aid in each teacher’s digital literacy development. Teachers need to be trained to be able to do more than just operate machinery. At Eminence, they have been trained to use literacy strategies with the technology, create wikis, produce videos through Animoto and Voicethreads, and post blogs. Eminence Independent Schools is moving forward as Next Generation Learners.

Jill Griebe is the District Literacy Coach for Eminence Independent Schools in Eminence, Kentucky. She is also a member of the Digital Learning Day Educator Working Group, which provides leadership on the Digital Learning Day toolkits and outreach development for teachers and administrators across the country.

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Digital Learning Series

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