Middle school teachers focus on technology during ‘Digital Learning Day’

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published February 6, 2014

 Jasmine Selph and Niazha Cole work on iPads in math class during Digital Learning Day.

Jasmine Selph and Niazha Cole work on iPads in math class during Digital Learning Day.

Photo by April Lehmbeck

HARPER WOODS — While Harper Woods Schools has been working on integrating technology into the curriculum and giving students hands-on experience with 21st century learning tools, the district’s middle school teachers acknowledged national Digital Learning Day with a host of technology-based lessons.

“Our middle school staff is infusing the use of digital tools across the curriculum,” middle school science teacher June Teisan said in an email.

Digital Learning Day was Feb. 5, and the lessons spanned all subjects.

The interactive whiteboard was used in lessons to reinforce math skills, iPads were used to create picture collages with captions in Spanish class, science lessons used a ChemLab app to virtually mix chemicals in a beaker, and more.

“There’s a gaming aspect to it,” Teisan said of the ChemLab app, which she said makes it fun while the students learn about science. “If you can ‘game-ify’ learning, they’re going to be more engaged.”

Although the teachers acknowledged digital learning day with technology-based lessons, this isn’t a one-day opportunity. They use laptops, iPads and other tools regularly.

“We’ve been doing a great job this year,” Teisan said, acknowledging the work that the district’s technology team has been doing helping teachers integrate the new tools into their lessons.

She said some districts drop devices and tools into the classrooms without support to be able to implement them appropriately. That isn’t the case in Harper Woods Schools, she said.

“Across the curriculum, it’s being able to be a more seamless integration because of the help of our technology specialists,” Teisan said. “It’s really been fun.”

Math teacher David Perry’s students were using iPads in his classroom to work on math skills that they’ll need to master and will be tested on during standardized tests.

“It gives them instant feedback,” he said of the math program on the iPads.

Sheree Burns talked about how the students in her computer class use a typing program to work on typing skills. They also use Google Docs, Excel spreadsheets and even learn about etiquette on the Internet and other helpful lessons.

She was working with them on creating solid passwords and how to refine Google searches so they can do research and get what they’re looking for among the many search responses.

Student Oneasha Redd said she likes having the technology in the classroom and the typing program.

Student Qianta Nelson also likes having technology in use in the classroom, as opposed to relying solely on books. It makes finding information more efficient.

“You can look up anything you need,” Nelson said.

Students in Erika Ciavattone’s Spanish class used iPads to take pictures for their collages.

Ciavattone walked around the room keeping the students on task and looking at their finished products, helping them fix any issues with the Spanish in the captions.

She said she knows teachers have been using the new technology in the classrooms for things like presentations, research and more.

“We’ve all used them for different things,” Ciavattone said of the devices in the schools. “They’re nice to have.”