The fifth grade class at Marysville Elementary is similar to many fifth grade classes around the country. The children were born in the new millennium, have had no experience of life without technology and the internet, and have become increasingly used to utilizing that technology, gaining a familiarity bordering on dependency with tablets, laptops and smartphones.
Understandably, the students expected that same sort of technology to aide them in their education. It stands to reason that the technology they use to help them learn at home would help them learn in an educational institution. However, as with most fifth grade students around the country, that was not the reality of the classroom.
“I have a projector, document camera, class set of Windows laptops I had donated, a few Microsoft Surfaces, an iPad, a teacher Chromebook and access to a Chromebook cart,” says Kelli Joy, the teacher of this particular fifth grade classroom at Marysville Elementary. Kelli acknowledges that including technology in lesson plans has become essential for maintaining students’ attention, but learning new technology seemed daunting and may be difficult to incorporate into lessons, which takes up valuable class time.
Lana Penley, the principal of Marysville School, also knew the school was in need of new technology in the classroom. “Schooling has to be connected to the real world and I think that’s the advantage technology can give kids—they’re more engaged because it’s more like their real world.”
An InFocus JTouch interactive whiteboard featuring a 1080p touchscreen display, integrated speakers, wireless collaboration technology for screen sharing and Windows 8 OS, was integrated in the classroom for Kelli Joy to incorporate in her lessons.
“District-wide purchases come from the district IT team. This includes things like the Tech Carts we received three years ago. In-school purchases are approved by the principal but come from a designated tech budget. The district, school and individual teachers seek grants for technology purchases,” says Joy. “The JTouch was delivered to my classroom and I installed it myself. I had to enlist the help of my husband and a fellow teacher because of the weight but in terms of getting it turned on and up and running, it was very simple.”
The JTouch allows her to incorporate web content and digital materials into her lessons for the students to engage with on the board. The students can also share their own work directly from their laptops with wireless casting technology. Kelli also incorporates live notetaking sessions and presentations, where her students can write directly on the board on top of her lesson materials or other student work. Joy uses the JTouch in a number of ways, including:
- Whiteboarding – “A traditional whiteboard has space limitations. The JTouch lets me write on an expanding canvas and save my work for later reference.”
- Touch-Based Learning Apps – “I use these online apps to support lessons any chance I can get. It’s so easy to manipulate them on the JTouch browser.”
- Showing videos – “The large screen is important when working with a large class size. I need the student in back to have as much access to what we’re sharing as the student in front.”
- Casting Student Work – “We are a Google classroom and students can wirelessly share their work from their device onto the JTouch.”
- Casting iPad Camera as Doc Camera – “I use my iPad to cast live camera feed of what students have created at their desks. This keeps the class moving quickly so I don’t have to have a student bring what they’ve created at their desk (a geoboard for example or a pattern with blocks) to the document camera and wait for them to reassemble, etc. Now I just point the iPad camera on their work and they can stand at their desk, explain what they’ve done and all the students get to see their example.”
The ease of use of the JTouch and the flexibility it has given to her lessons has really paid off. “I can’t image a classroom or teaching (learning) without the use of technology. I believe it to be the ultimate tool for encouraging collaboration in my classroom. I’m able to access a wider variety of resources to engage and differentiate for my students. I always say technology is making me a better teacher.”
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