Transforming Teaching and Learning in Grades K - 8

Transforming Teaching and Learning in Grades K - 8
Posted on 11/26/2015

By Diane Stulz, Coordinator of Instruction and Digital Conversion

Technology is changing the way we are teaching and learning in Worcester County Public Schools. It provides the opportunity for teachers to personalize learning experiences for their students while giving choice to students about how they learn and how they demonstrate what they know. It is not the technology, but how it is used that makes a difference in the classroom.

Grades K-3 are implementing iPads because the touch screen capability works well for students at this level. Students use these devices for enrichment, reinforcement, and creativity. Teachers are using iPads to provide students with opportunities to create presentations, make movies, and write about what they have learned.

Michael Browne, Pocomoke Elementary School principal, commented upon the impact of iPads in instruction, “Having devices allows students to take ownership and control of their learning. Students are more engaged because their lessons are interactive and every student can actively participate in the lesson.”

Teachers use iPads in their classrooms to enhance lessons through using apps, such as Nearpod, to quickly see if every student understands the concept being taught. Teachers post a question, and students respond on their iPads. The teacher has immediate results and can use that information to guide instruction. iReady, another program, assesses students’ reading and math skills and creates individualized programs to help students build needed skills. As students work, they have immediate feedback on their answers, and they no longer having to wait for a teacher to grade their work. This allows teachers to immediately assist students when they are working on a concept, not wait until the next day.

Chromebooks are being utilized in grades 4-8. All programs are cloud-based and can be accessed from any device. Students are able to create documents, presentations, and collaborative work products on the device and save it in OneDrive, a cloud storage solution. Teachers are using them with students to collaborate on projects across content areas such as a social studies and language arts project.

Tools such as Office 365, a web-based productivity tool, provides a platform for students to complete assignments and allows teachers to access students’ work from any computer. Two science teachers at Stephen Decatur Middle School, Sara Braniecki and Lindsay Harrington, are providing new experiences for their students using Chromebooks.

"We are working toward integrating more writing into our 7th grade science classrooms.  For some students this is quite a daunting task,” Braniecki said. “The Chromebooks allowed us to share a research paper template with the students that made the task feasible for all of them.  The students were then able to share their documents with us, allowing us to monitor their individual progress and offer immediate feedback." 

As Worcester County Public Schools implements new teaching and learning methods, it is important to remember that technology is only one tool used to meet the needs of students. The most important factor in quality teaching and learning is, and will always be, the teacher.

If you have any questions about digital devices or Worcester County Public Schools’ digital conversion, please contact me at (410) 632-5030.