Blogging, apps, polling, stop-motion animation, videos and even games, are all powerful educational tools that are engaging students, assisting teachers and transforming classrooms.
Ask the leaders in the field and they’ll tell you that integrating technology into a classroom isn’t just about “virtual” learning, or putting a student behind a computer screen. It’s about innovation and greater engagement through interactive learning experiences. It’s about the purposeful use of technology where it enhances – not replaces – teaching. They’ll also tell you that one of the most critical needs for schools is training for educators on using these technologies.
That’s where the Verizon Foundation comes in with its newly launched Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) program, working with 12 underserved schools around the country.
Verizon tapped the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to provide educators at these 12 schools with year-long professional development that will prepare them to take the lead in fully integrating and applying mobile technologies to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning.
Willis Junior High School in Chandler, Arizona, is one of the participating schools and Principal Jeff Delp is a firm believer in the potential for technology to make instruction meaningful and engaging for all students.
“You can’t just put the technology out there in front of students without first modeling what you want the classroom to look like,” said Delp. “Having a connected classroom means you have to first be a connected educator.”
At Willis Junior High, teachers are blogging and expanding their personal learning network with other educators outside the four walls of the classroom. During Language Arts, students are using Google Docs for peer editing. Science teachers are using video tags on Google Earth. Math teachers are designing lessons around Angry Birds and the mathematical equations behind the game. Teachers are using Poll Everywhere with their students to check information retention in real-time. And, new for this school year, they’ll host guest lecturers in the classroom using Skype.
As the team at Willis and the other 11 VILS schools head into the school year, they all have a common goal: ensure that students are engaged in learning and building the skills required for future success.