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A Creative Toolbox

Students Use Technology To Show What They Are Learning

JHS Earth Science students took a virtual reality field trip to the Grand Canyon.

“Today, we are going to learn how to bring your drawings into the AR Maker app,” said JPS Technology Integration Specialist Jason Kathman as he displayed a picture of a mountain he drew on the class screen. “If I transfer this picture into AR Maker what would be the problem?”

“It’s floating,” said a student.

“Yes it is, but I have a bigger issue,” said Kathman. “The entire picture will not show up. Why?”

“Because is can’t be a on a white background,” said another student.

“Absolutely correct, but we can fix that on our iPads and bring it into AR Maker.”

Bush Elementary School fourth grader, Ernie Carrasquillo Alvira, worked on his Swedish traditions holiday card during ELA in Cristen Hockenberry’s class.

Kathman demonstrated how to incorporate their drawings into an altered reality app to Persell Middle School fifth graders in Michela Tehan’s art class. The fifth graders created a story that is illustrated and narrated by the students through augmented reality. Students created their own “world” through the AR Maker app, which is a creative toolbox allowing students to scan in their drawings from paper or created on their iPads and transform them into 2D or 3D virtual objects. Tehan’s class is just one of many Jamestown classrooms that are integrating technology in an intentional, curriculum-driven way to enhance and expand student learning — all by meeting the teacher’s educational goals.

“Students have really been excited to see their story idea come to life using augmented reality,” said Tehan. “Students are learning by creating, each at their own pace, in their own direction and towards their own vision. Each student using their iPad stretches engagement and challenges the students to really take learning and creating into their own hands. The students are driven to do their best because they are so excited to see that they can complete a very polished, artistic scene in augmented reality.”

Technology integration is the use of resources — computers, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, social media platforms and networks, software applications, the Internet — in daily classroom practices. A 2019 Gallup Poll on “Creativity in Learning” showed that 81% of teachers say lesson plans that make transformative use of technology are better for students to connect their learning to the real world.

“I had never done altered reality before this class,” said Persell fifth grader Joshua Piazza. “It was interesting because you can see what you are creating come to life, a floating world, on your iPad. I like using technology in classes because it’s just more fun to learn the subject.”

Tehan’s classroom is just one of many examples of how JPS teachers use technology to enhance and expand their subjects. Bush Elementary School fourth grade teachers used Keynote presentation software in an innovative way. The students were studying about holidays around the world and how different cultures celebrate in English Language Arts. Students created holiday cards representing a specific culture, like Swedish. Students had to include facts about the culture in the card. Instead of just “Googling” the culture and pulling images from the Internet, students created their cards on Keynote using shapes to build their content. In Tim Anderson’s English Language Arts classes at Washington Middle School, students also used Keynote but in two different ways. Students wrote original, short stories and created a cartoon based on their story. They also learned literary terms like dialect and flashback creating a project that visually explained what the term meant, pretending they were explaining it to a fourth grader. These projects not only taught the students important technology skills; teachers could see if children understood what they had learned in class.

Persell Middle School fifth grader, Caleb Johnson, worked on his altered reality project during Michela Tehan’s art class.

“It is easier and more interesting to use an iPad. Kids our age are more interested in a subject when they use technology rather than just the traditional way,” said Washington eighth graders Madison Potter and Shiloh Walker. “In the literary term project, we didn’t just learn the definition, we also had to figure out a creative way to explain what the term means to a fourth grader both visually and in written form.”

JPS also has the ability and equipment to use virtual reality to take tours of faraway places. JHS Earth Science teacher Kim Barber took her students to the Grand Canyon to discuss rocks and minerals. Washington Middle School students have taken tours of the Rainforest as part of their English Language Arts unit, using their iPads to discover animals and plants that they might never have the opportunity to see in real life. JPS teachers have the opportunity to use not only pre-packaged virtual tours but to curate a virtual tour for their students that exactly matches what they are teaching in the classroom.

“Our goal with technology integration in the district is less of using it just as a teaching tool with just the teacher and more for students to create content as a way to show us that they understand — creating content as opposed to just consuming content – all to meet the educational goal,” said Kathman. “Today’s students grew up in the digital age. Technology in the classroom allows students to gain a deeper understanding of topics that interest them, collaborate with each other and direct their learning.”

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