Technology

Kids at computer

Technology at WMS

Educational technology is a buzzword in education, but what does it really mean? In a nutshell, educational technology means integrating technology tools such as computers, Internet, calculators, iPads, and Chromebooks into the classroom to encourage student achievement. Technology integration is an everyday experience at Wells Memorial School. In fact, as teachers we often forget how much we do use technology as a tool for teaching. The students at WMS are all becoming “digital natives,” people who are comfortable with technology at all levels unlike those of us who struggle to embrace the new gadgetry around us. Here are a few highlights of how technology is integrated into the curriculum at WMS.

Moviemaking is a fun way to engage students in learning. This year, students in grades two, three, four, and five produced video book reviews. They recorded audiobook reviews that became narrations for video presentations. Some of the video book reviews incorporate the use of blue screening, a special effect that allows manipulations of the background, much like the special effects seen in the evening news weather report. Blue screening allowed the students to appear in front of a larger-than-life book covers. One group of students created comic strips based on their books. They were then blue-screened into their own comic strip to make the book review. Video book reviews are made with PowerPoint, Moviemaker, and iMovie, all standard computer applications.

 

This same movie-making technique was used by students researching and reporting on geographic landforms during their study of ancient civilizations. Students blue-screened themselves onto the Isthmus of Corinth, Mount Vesuvius, and the Peloponnesian Peninsula, creating the effect that they were reporting from those locations.

 

Interactive whiteboards (SMART Boards) are used throughout the school. Spanish classes represent a great example of how Ms. Goodman has incorporated this interactive technology. Almost every week students use the Smart Board to enhance their Spanish vocabulary. The Smart Board is also featured in Math Movies made by fourth- and fifth-graders in Mrs. Dery’s class. These movies combine the Smart Board, audio editing, and video editing software to create “how-to” movies for math procedures. Students completed the entire process themselves, including script writing, video editing, narrations and soundtrack layout. 


Mrs. Swope’s first-graders and kindergarteners have been active users of the Smart Board this year as well. They use it to do storytelling, drawing, and science and math activities. For a nutrition project, the class collected data on which healthy snack alternatives students preferred, and then graphed the results using the Smart Board. Baby spinach was the hands-down favorite!

 

Second- and third-graders took a trip through the solar system complete with audio connections to “mission control.” Using short-range headsets, sources from the Internet, and NASA, students in Mr. Thomas’s class researched and reported on the planets. They took their direction for this inquiry-oriented lesson from Mr. Thomas using the short-range audio headsets. Each question or comment was started with “Mission Control, Mission Control, this is . . .”

 

  Their final mission research was collected and presented using PowerPoint. Students added special effects and animations to their presentations making them fun to watch. A PowerPoint presentation prepared by two third-graders about their bear projects will be used in their service-learning project.

 

  Student Response Systems, SRS, or “clickers” as they are known, are used regularly in WMS classrooms. This tool, which has buttons similar to a cell phone or calculator, records responses to questions. Students press buttons to send their answer choices to a computer, where they can then be tabulated as part of the whole class’s response. Students truly enjoy working with the clickers. In kindergarten class, when one student asked how they worked, another quickly responded with “It’s magic!” Not a second passed before they were corrected by a more knowledgeable first-grader who pointed out that clickers “work just like TV remotes.”

 

  Clickers promote engagement in discussions about stories, provide reviews before tests, and assess student learning. In fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, reading groups write their own questions for the weekly reading quiz. They delight in creating questions to stump classmates. When a disagreement over an answer arises, so does a lively discussion.

 

  Aside from these specific projects, technology is part of the daily student experience at Wells Memorial School. Students use computers to write, practice skills, keep records, and do research. In Mrs. Dery’s class, computers are requisite for any writing assignment. Mr. Thomas uses ikeepbookmarks.com, a website that allows sharing of favorite Internet sites, to incorporate and use interactive learning materials in his class and at home. Mrs. Yardley posts news, homework assignments, and other items of import on her wiki. 

 

  As technology develops, teachers constantly find ways of integrating it into student learning. Technology provides meaningful opportunities for students to practice and connect with challenging and creative assignments and provides opportunities for the development of skills needed for the future.                                             Charlotte Greenhalgh