Wichita Falls ISD Participates in Digital Learning Day 2018
Wichita Falls ISD Participates in Digital Learning Day 2018
Fifty-five community members, WFISD school board members and administrators teamed up February 23 to participate in National Digital Learning Day for the third consecutive year. The teams visited 23 campuses and observed digital learning in classrooms at all grade levels.
The teams observed teachers using Chromebooks, Osmos, iPads, Spheros and Mindstorms robots, along with interactive apps like Padlet, Quizlet Live, and Kahoot.
To community members' surprise, students were so actively engaged in their digital activities that they barely noticed the visitors touring their rooms.
Here are snapshots of what they observed.
Lamar Elementary Bilingual Class Uses QR Codes to Research Presidents
At Lamar Elementary, students in Elena Martinez’s bilingual class researched presidents using their Chromebooks. They clicked on a variety of QR codes, which took them directly to helpful research sites.
Lamar Elementary 5th Grade Class Programs Spheros Robots
Megan Halperin’s fifth-grade science class at Lamar Elementary operated their ball-shaped robots, called Spheros, to gently push the miniature elements of the Energy Pyramid onto the proper spost on the pyramid. Ms. Halperin obtained the robotic equipment through a favorite donation source called Donors Choose, where teachers post needs and community members respond. She confided to Digital Learning Day visitors that it one of her favorite addictions. “My name is Megan,” she said, “and I’m addicted to Donors Choose.”
Lamar Elementary Teacher Uses Kahoot App to Quiz, Assess and Re-Teach
Lamar Elementary teacher Robert Maxwell led his class in a game of Kahoot to quiz students on grammar and word choices. Students stalled on a question about base words. “What is ‘hopeful’ without ful? It’s the base word,” he said. “Talk to your partner and find the best answer.” Students raced to choose the right answer to the question. This game was actually giving him important information that he would use for future review sessions, he said. The digital program will allow him to sort his class responses by their incorrect answers. “Then I know what to do for next week,” he said.
Comfort Seating and Digital Prowess at Lamar Elementary Pay Dividends for 2nd Graders
Lamar Elementary teacher Jessica Hernandez, who is in her second year of teaching, used Kahoot to quiz her “very competitive” second-grade class. Digital Learning Day participants saw her enormous gray sectional (pictured here) and a gray sofa parked in her classroom, with desks pushed behind it. “She took a big risk with comfort seating,” said Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths, who toured the class with community members. Even though she has only been teaching two years, Mrs. Hernandez is a rock star, said Lamar Counselor Heather Miller. Because of her, the 2nd-graders are extremely comfortable with technology, she said. “If you have a question on technology, go ask a second-grader,” she said.
Booker T. Washington 4th Graders Make Research Fun With ‘Thinglink’
n Christie Huong’s class at Booker T. Washington Elementary, fourth-graders researched countries using an app called thinglink. It allowed students to take a 3D picture of their country and link information directly to the picture. Here, WFISD Secondary Science Curriculum Specialist Steve Henderson watches the fourth-graders manipulate their 3D photos by zooming in, zooming out and swiveling for a 360-degree view.
Booker T. Washington 5th Grade Teacher Uses Technology to Differentiate Assignments
At Booker T. Washington Elementary, fifth-grade teacher Kellie Hare said she has used a variety of competitive games in her classroom, including popular ones like Ed Puzzle, Kahoot and Quizlet. But her students tired of Kahoot and now prefer Quizlet, a more interactive quiz-based review game. It requires students to work in teams and consult on answers. “When they talk, they learn so much more,” she said. While one group of students plays Quizlet to test their knowledge about prime numbers and composites, she checks with two advanced students sitting in plastic Adirondack chairs in the corner. They are creating slides for a slide show on the day’s topic of prime numbers and composites. The digital devices and options allow her to differentiate her teaching to reach all the levels of proficiency in her classroom, she said.
Captivating ‘Osmo’ Device Teaches Spelling, Math to Booker T. Washington Kinders
In Lacey Davis’ kindergarten classroom at Booker T. Washington, Jayden uses the interactive Osmo Words to practice spelling out words. The device gives Jayden a picture and its matching word with one or more of the letters missing and asks the child to fill in the missing letters. The child finds a tile with the correct letter and moves it close to the Osmo, which uses its camera (the red cap on top) to read the letter and project it on the screen. It rewards children for the right answers. “It’s really helping with their vocabulary,” said Mrs. Davis. She has four Osmo devices in her classroom. They are used for math and vocabulary and adapt to children of all ability levels. “They do Osmo every day, and they absolutely love Osmos,” she said.
Haynes Northwest Academy 5th Graders Write a Story with Google Classroom’s Writing Adventures
At Haynes Northwest Academy, Katie Miller (far left) uses Writing Adventures with Google Classroom in her 5th-grade reading class. The digital program tells each student a story, occasionally giving them two plot options from which they can choose. The exercise helps students develop writing skills, which will help them write their own stories later on, said Mrs. Miller.
Haynes Northwest Academy Students Command Lego Mindstorms Robot
Two Haynes Northwest Academy students use a laptop to operate their tarantula-looking robot that crept through the Haynes hallways following their commands. The robot is actually a Lego Mindstorms EV3 Education robot used by the Robots Are Us after-school robotics team at Haynes. Students built it from a kit. It works well, except sometimes the legs get tangled, said one student.
‘Go Guardian’ Gives Kirby Middle School Teacher a Window Into Each Student’s Classroom Activity
At Kirby Middle School, teacher Jennifer Faulkenbery keeps a bird’s eye view of the screens of each student’s computer using the computer program Go Guardian. She can tell that all students are logged in and working on the assignment of researching Olympians and current Olympic events. The computer program allows her to watch their progress from the sidelines. “I don’t have to be in their face,” she said.
Talented and Gifted Students Show Projects to Superintendent
WFISD Superintendent Mike Kuhrt sat in a beanbag chair at Carrigan as he observed a Talented and Gifted student immersed in a digital project on his iPad. During the Digital Learning Day tours, Mr. Kuhrt and others were impressed that students were so engaged in their projects, they barely noticed their community visitors. “That happens everyday,” said Mr. Kuhrt of the many digital projects they saw. “That’s engaged learning.” The goal of technology use in WFISD is to make learning visible and publish for the world to see, he said. “It has been awesome to take curriculum and technology and combine them,” he said. “We’ve been fast. Lots of people want to tell our story.”
Rider High School Students Work on Break-Out Project
At Rider High School, teacher Heather Preston engaged her Advanced Placement English IV students in a digital breakout. The exercise doubled as a review of information about the format of the upcoming AP Literature and Composition exam, she said. The digital breakout forces students to use their critical thinking and collaborative skills to follow clues and solve puzzling questions to unlock information, said Mrs. Preston. Here, Jacob Obney (right) helps Spencer Bristo (left) answer a question to open one of the digital locks they need to complete the exercise.
District Leader Applauds Use of Technology – and Dearth of Textbooks
As one team of community members toured several schools, WFISD Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths nodded approvingly at the wealth of laptops, Chromebooks, Osmos, and apps being used. “Where is a textbook?” he said, looking around a classroom and seeing none. The typical classroom today uses comfortable, collaborative seating, digital technology and few, if any, textbooks.
Kirby Middle School Teacher Uses Quizlet Live on “Best Day Ever”
Gwenna Gallenberger, an 8th grade science teacher at Kirby Middle School, titled her email, “Best Day Ever,” and sent it to her principal, Troy Farris. She attached a video of her students competing fiercely and loudly in a game of Quizlet Live. She showed the same video to the Digital Learning Day guests who trooped through her classroom. “I know what technology does,” she said. It engages her students better than anything else…even the tired ones who work until midnight every night.
Teachers Seek Balance with Technology, Says Burgess Elementary Principal
Burgess Elementary Principal Jeff Hill gave Digital Learning Day participants a tour through a fourth-grade math class where students made Flipgrid videos, then to a fourth-grade writing class where a teacher gave an interactive lesson using the versatile Nearpod app. Students with good behavior who have earned a Beagle Badge are allowed to work make videos in the hallway where it is often quieter, he said. Always, teachers seek balance in their use of technology, he said. “We want meaningful assignments on technology,” he said. For example, he said, when one kindergarten class went an entire year using Chromebooks, their digital performance was astounding – but their first-grade teachers found they couldn’t write their letters, he said. “We need to find the right balance.”
Burgess Elementary Classroom Keeps Interactive Whiteboard Humming
The interactive whiteboard in Julie Woolsey’s Burgess Elementary classroom cost $1,000 and was the latest and greatest technology – about 10 years ago. Students showed Digital Learning Day participants that it’s still useful – and still heavily used. Here, students stood on a step and took turns interacting with its touch screen to sort triangles and rectangles into columns. “Now, for $200, you can buy an attachment that gives every board white board capabilities,” said tour guide Principal Jeff Hill. “We need to make sure technology enhances our teaching.”
Burgess Elementary Class Takes Virtual Field Trips to Prepare for Writing Assignment
At Burgess Elementary, Rainie McDonald put her fourth-grade students on the Nearpod app to explore places they’d like to visit. This was preparatory work for writing an argumentative paragraph to Principal Jeff Hill to convince him to send them there. Using technology, they took virtual field trips to several large cities all over the world – and even to Mars. They collaborated about the virtues of travel in a Think-Pair-Share exercise, then shared their thoughts with one another – and even parents -- in an email.
Hirschi High School Students Tackle Olympics-Themed Break-Out Activity
Hirschi High School teacher Savannah Wheeler led her high school students in a break-out activity: It’s a special treasure-hunt of clues that, when solved, will open a series of locks and lead the entire class to a special prize. As a fan of anything about the Olympics, Ms. Wheeler created an Olympic’s themed adventure of clues for the various teams in her classes. “In the previous two classes, only one team has gotten it,” she said. To “break out,” students must watch videos and read interesting articles to figure out the “keys” to each lock which, in this case, are the main ideas of each article. To her surprise, some of her lowest-performing students do the best at these break-out activities. “They think in a different way,” she said. Such projects exercise a student’s skill of “figuring things out” – something they’ll need for adult living.
Hirschi High School Teacher Uses Technology to Prep Future Nurses
The freshmen and sophomores in the Hirschi High School classroom of Candace Banks (center, standing) are taking her class because they want to be nurses someday. Computer screens glow at every seat as her students use the Nearpod app to quiz their way through the day’s lesson. Ms. Banks walked them through questions, like “This organ grows throughout childhood and shrinks in puberty. What is it?” (Do you know? It’s the thymus.)