St. John-Emmanuel Teacher Explores a Tech-Driven Approach to Learning

Mary Hines Engages First Grade Students with TechnologyTechnology is everywhere, touching every aspect of our lives from the way we organize our schedules to how we communicate with each other. Though many schools still lag behind integrating technology fully in the classroom, some teachers are exploring how to effectively integrate technology across the curriculum.Teacher Mary Hines is up to the challenge. “This is a visual generation,” she says. “They have been wired since they are two to do screen work. We need to teach them the way they learn.” PA283334 300x214 In her first grade class at St. John-Emmanuel, she demonstrates on her smart board how to manipulate a block of ten squares so that it becomes a unit of ten. She touches the block of squares, dragging it into another column where it becomes a combined unit.She has discovered that teaching the math concept of tens is more effective when students can manipulate the objects on a screen, rather than doing a worksheet.“If I can take my tens and move them over here and it becomes a ten, it makes sense to them,” she says as she touches objects on the screen.Mrs. Hines engages students with technology using a variety of methods, including group work, learning centers, and individually. As a forty-year veteran teacher, she knows the power of using a hands-on approach to reach today’s generation.“It’s hard to get this generation’s attention,” Mrs. Hines states. “I have one boy who’s always putting his head down and doesn’t want to listen. When we got smart boards, he wanted to answer all the questions.”Students explore subjects ranging from language arts to math skills using the iPad. Mrs. Hines sees the progress students are making with one learning app called Code Blaster, which teaches pre-programming skills.“It is a game in which kids have to plan every move in advance to break it out of a maze. They then get to test their plan,” Mrs. Hines states. “The mazes get more complex as they go. I have found that they are more able to carry this over into math and science as they think about how they may arrive at an answer.”Mrs. Hines, who uses fewer worksheets in the classroom now that she has greater access to technology, thinks this approach to teaching is best for student engagement. PA283322 300x214 Cindy McKinney, academic excellence coordinator for The Lutheran Schools Partnership, notes the importance of engaging students through technology to create experientially rich classrooms.“One of our strategies to enhance academic excellence is to support teachers in their use of technology in their classrooms,” she says. “This is a great way to keep students engaged in learning and make real world connections.”The Lutheran Schools Partnership provides a monthly tech meeting for teachers to learn about new tools or strategies for tech integration.A summer tech lab for teachers is also planned for Tuesday, June 14. The following classes will be offered starting at 9:00 AM:SeeSaw 9:00-10:00Google Classroom 10:15-11:15Lunch 11:30-12:15Twitter/Instagram 12:30-1:30Weebly 1:45-2:45Contact Cindy McKinney to signup for the tech lab at cindym@tlspartnership.org.Integrating technology and using a variety of strategies helps students succeed and provides them with the building blocks for success later on down the road.