5 Oct 2011

Technology has its place in the classroom in Bowling Green

Author: Sarah Bailey | Filed under: Local stories, Student Contributor

By Sarah Bailey

Kristine Brickner, a kindergarten teacher at Ridge Elementary, stands by her computers in her classroom. Photo taken by Sarah Bailey.

Students in Bowling Green City Schools may not be using iPads yet, but they are getting a wide variety of technology in the classroom.

A public school district in Auburn, Maine, recently became the first in the country to give every kindergartener an iPad.

Bowling Green City School officials and Bowling Green State University educators said kindergarteners here are not using iPads, but they are using different forms of technology in the classroom for their kindergarteners.

“Technology is a big push for the district, but to an extent,” Kristine Brickner, a kindergartener teacher at Ridge Elementary, said.

The school wants students in the lower grades to experience sensory integration, or physically being able to feel what they are doing while they are learning, she said.

Teachers are provided with computers, a cart of netbooks that can be wheeled to each room, and a most recent installment of Smartboards throughout the classrooms, she said.

Smartboards are interactive projection displays which allow teachers to use technology in the classroom and lets students interact with the material, Brickner said.

Instead of iPads, Ridge Elementary uses programs such as Orton Gillingham’s “Author Sensory” in the classroom for phonics instruction, she said.

The program allows the students to use bumpy screens in which they can feel letters and shapes through their fingers. It lets children learn quickly through exploring different textures, she said.

In comparison to the school district in Maine, Bowling Green City Schools are just as up to speed on technology, Brickner said.

“I think we have a lot of technology under our belt, and we’re still continually growing,” she said. “Every single year there’s something new.”

As can be expected, according to the National Education Technology Plan, which calls for bringing advanced technologies to the classroom in order to “improve student learning, accelerate and scale up the adoption of effective practices, and use data and information for continuous improvement” according to the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

Hilary Lindauer, a junior majoring in education at BGSU, thinks technology such as iPads has its place in the classroom.

“I think technology in the classroom nowadays is almost essential,” she said. “You need to make things relevant for the kids.”

Using technology in the classroom will make students remember and enjoy their learning experiences because it is applicable to their lives. If teachers can use and integrate technology into the classroom, it can help students better understand a lesson, Lindauer said.

“With younger kids, using a GPS when talking about geography can give them that hands- on experience,” she said.

However, Lindauer was quick to point out when technology can go too far.

“There has to be some sort of discipline so that you can control what they are doing with that technology,” she said. “If they are using it to their advantage, they’re taking advantage of you.”

Savilla Banister, coordinator of the Graduate Classroom Technology Program at BGSU, said using the right tools can help motivate children to learn.

“Students can learn in a way that’s more engaging or interesting,” she said. “It keeps students focused on the content.”

Applications such as digital and interactive stories are available on the iPad for teachers to let their students use, Banister said.

On the iPad, interactive stories contain a voice which reads the stories to the children, and the children are able to flip through pages by  sliding their fingers across the screen, she said. Stories such “The Monster at the End of This Book” and other Sesame Street stories are available for children to read.

Banister, who has spent time working in Bowling Green City Schools classrooms, said teachers in the district are interested in integrating more technology.

“Teachers in Bowling Green are just the same as many schools, trying to figure out how to effectively use technology,” she said.

For people who may doubt the use of technology in the classroom, Banister cited her own personal experience with children and technology.

“I have eight grandkids, and they have no problem manipulating, using the apps, and still picking up a crayon and keeping their motor skills,” she said.

When it comes to the future, Banister said education will grow even more in the classroom and online.

As for the future of technology in the classroom, no one can be too certain, she said.

“It will be interesting to see how it plays out,” she said. “All of the pieces are here now for ultimate learning and collaboration worldwide.”

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