Across all subject areas schools are using technology to revolutionize classroom lessons. For students who are well adept at using smartphones and iPads, the access to information is essential and likely to generate interest and enthusiasm.
In Elizabeth New Jersey, three students are focused on their iPads as world history teacher Jorge Madrigal discusses the religious symbols embedded in two Renaissance paintings. As Jennifer Hernandez listens to her teacher, she uses her finger to draw three pink triangles on the image of Madonna and Child, identifying the symbol of the Holy Trinity that Madrigal is explaining.
The lesson — one of hundreds in this honors history class at John E Dwyer Technology Academy — is posted on the school’s software program. Madrigal’s students log in, call up the electronic lesson, complete it, then post it back to the class site, where Madrigal reviews and grades it.
“We can go to Rome, we can go to the museum where the paintings are,” Madrigal said, pointing to the iPads each of the academy’s 1,050 students are given for the year. “I want them to see the world differently.”
Use of media center
Laptops and tablets have been part of classroom culture for years, but the way some schools in New Jersey are utilizing these tools is nothing short of revolutionary. From paperless classes to personalized math lessons, educators are using technology to challenge their strong students and give extra support to the weak. Along the way, they are changing the way they teach as they adapt to the way students learn.
Madrigal is one of the mentors leading the way in Elizabeth, where he believes changes in instruction mean more engaged students.
“We are teaching a higher order of thinking and questioning and getting them to as higher level questions,” he said.
Indeed, everything about this technology-rich school is different, from the iLEAP media center to the eye-popping number of big-screen computers in the classrooms. Rather than face the teacher in rows of orderly desks, students are clustered in groups, with teachers roaming around the clusters to help when needed.
Dwyer Academy Principal Christopher Van Vliet said he sees positive signs in student achievement, and an overall climate of enthusiasm and optimism.
“(Students) are taking ownership of their learning,” he said. “If kids are interested they’ll come every day and they’ll be engaged.”
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