Students use technology in new waysPublished 2:45pm Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Sometimes all it takes to get a student excited about learning is to find that common ground where a student can really relate to the material he or she is studying.
Russellville Middle School sixth and eighth grade history teacher Jason Walker said he has been able to do exactly that through the help of new technology.
This past month, Walker had his students complete a project that, several years ago, would have been a seemingly routine project for students in that particular age group – a topical essay supported by a poster board as a visual aid.
But thanks to a grant from Technology in Motion, what would have been essays and poster boards became interactive web pages that could be accessed and shared with a student’s classmates, family and friends.
Walker said the idea behind this interactive project came from a professional development session the Russellville City Schools administration set up for their teachers this past January.
Walker said the speaker for this particular session was Dr. Barry Wiginton, who is the instructional technology specialist for Technology in Motion at the University of North Alabama.
“Dr. Wiginton told us about the different technological tools we can use in the classroom in order for our students to create these types of projects that can really get them interested in the subject matter we are teaching just because it is presented to them in a different way,” Walker said.
The project started out with Walker giving each student the broad topic of “How can one person change the world” and then each student had to come up with a real life example of how one person changed the world.
“We had subjects from Jackie Robinson to Martin Luther King, Jr. to Rosa Parks,” Walker said.
“The students then had to do an essay on their topic and then take their written essay and transfer it into an interactive site through a website called Takk.com, which is something Dr. Wiginton talked to us about.
“On this site, the students turn their essays into a visual aid that is complete with pictures, video, and anything else that would support their project.
“You could just seem them getting excited – just lighting up – at the idea of creating a web page for their project. And when they got them finished, you could tell how proud each one of them was of the work they had done.”
Alejandro Wallace is a sixth grade student who loves video games and spending time on an iPad.
He said this project was something he would never forget.
“I really liked being able to work with the iPads,” he said.
“We were able to use videos and pictures instead of only words. I felt like this helped me learn more about the project and the things I was studying because I actually enjoyed doing it. I wish all of our projects could be like this.”
Walker said projects like this were also great for students who tend to be more visual learners and for the school’s ESL students who are still learning the English language.
“There are so many uses for this kind of technology and I appreciate Dr. Wiginton bringing it to our attention and for Technology in Motion loaning us the iPads and equipment in order for our students to participate in something like this,” he said.
“I also appreciate our administration for caring enough to bring in speakers like Dr. Wiginton so that we can offer the best possible education to our students.”