High-Tech High Schools
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Nowadays, using technology has become as commonplace as brushing your teeth, so it was just a matter of time before it became part of the classroom.
Here’s a look at how some area high schools are integrating technology into their curriculum.
1. PERSONALIZE IT
At Oakmont High School in Roseville, some classes require students to bring in a personal device – such as a smartphone or tablet – to use in class, says Assistant Principal Andrea Zimmerman. “The teacher uses Internet research and web skills to teach a lot of their content,” she explains. According to Zimmerman, this practice allows them to move away from set computer labs to mobile labs, which she believes will become more common for completing daily schoolwork. In addition, she says using mobile devices at school will help students learn new programs and tools they need to manage what they learn. “That training in itself, that skill, is something we really want to try and mirror,” she adds.
2. GET SMART (BOARDS)
To make learning more interactive, core curriculum classrooms in El Dorado Union High School District are now using Smart Boards, according to Christopher Moore, assistant superintendent of educational services. Moore says the Smart Boards are basically touch-screen whiteboards where teachers can touch, grab, highlight and move information around. He says this type of device makes presentations of curriculum more dynamic and engaging. “If a student is learning something new, the more visually captivating it can be, the more likely they’re going to be focused, paying attention and retaining the information…so it really adds to more quality presentations,” he says.
3. READ IT ONLINE
To help keep students’ backpacks at a reasonable weight, some classes now not only have a physical textbook, but also an online version of the book that students can access from a personal device. “They really don’t have to bring their book home – as long as they have a device where they can access it,” Moore says. “But because not everybody has that, we still provide the students with a book.” This technology through the book publisher also provides a portal students can log into for teacher assignments, educational videos, quizzes and more. “Our belief is that by providing students with the ability to access the information, to be engaged and check for understanding, they’re going to end up learning the information they need more effectively,” Moore says.
4. TEACH THE TEACHERS
One important aspect of using new technology in the classroom is it’s not just a learning experience for students – teachers are also getting schooled. At Oakmont High School, a group of about 20 teachers meet once a month to look at how the iPad can be used in the classroom. Zimmerman says the group shares details and gets training on different applications to help be more efficient in using the new tools for different subject areas. As well, the school’s librarian is keeping a Wiki of the best practices the group discovers for all to learn from. Zimmerman adds: “I’m really proud that our teachers are moving forward and looking for all kinds of innovative ways to use new and varying technologies.”