Fearless educators make fearless students
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. - Steve Jobs
He was one of the great innovators of our time, and we think Mr. Jobs would be proud walking through the halls of Loveland Early Childhood Center (LECC), Loveland Primary School (LPS) or Loveland Elementary School (LES); change is everywhere. The tiniest of our Tigers are keyboarding, Google Docs and Google Classroom are now in full use, and virtual labs, online textbooks and discussion boards are all resources in the Science Department’s tool box. It’s called growth mindset, and our teachers have it – resulting in an innovative environment equipping learners with opportunities most of us never dreamed we would see in schools.
Students in both LECC and LPS are learning about keyboarding through EasyTech. This is a leap for students. Finding letters seems like an easy task, but remember, some students just learned their letters only a year before. For students, this provides the reinforcement of skills in a fun way and helps them along their journey to being student authors. In Traci Stubenrauch’s class, students combined the skill of typing on Google Docs with Google Classroom.
“As a part of our First Grade English Language Arts standards, students are expected to create and publish their writing using digital tools,” said Stubenrauch. “With more students only experiencing touch-screen technology at such an early age, they are becoming less exposed to using a desktop or laptop. As a result, a huge challenge we must tackle first is developing the fine motor skills and coordination to operate a mouse. In addition, since first graders are still developing the basic literacy skills of reading and writing - specifically distinguishing between uppercase and lowercase letters - they must get acquainted with the letter keys if they are to even begin to produce any sort of writing or presentation using technology.
“EasyTech included a scope and sequence of lessons that sequentially introduced and facilitated practice of the necessary keyboarding and computer skills to develop digital literacy. Students progressed from learning how to navigate a mouse to familiarizing themselves with several letter keys each week in addition to important keys such as backspace, enter, shift, and the spacebar. As each student progressed through weekly lessons, the program measured accuracy and mastery of a digital skill. Once students acquired these foundational skills, they were ready to begin putting their skills to work in order to demonstrate their learning of content-specific knowledge in literacy.”
Innovative Instructional Coach Susan Craig set the class up with Google Classroom and students went from idea to final product – a story ready to publish!
“Seeing the students produce their narratives within Google Docs and post their assignments in Google Classroom opened my eyes to future opportunities to also incorporate other Google tools such as Slides to create narratives and informational reports,” said Stubenrauch. “I also saw that the possibilities extend beyond literacy and into areas such as math, science, and social studies as well.”
Second grade teacher, Tammy Ruehrwein seized the opportunity to preview her students skills before she taught the lesson. Google Classroom helped assess student ability, and then she was able to quickly grade and decide where each of her students were on the learning continuum.
“The data from the assessment gave me information on where I needed to focus my attention with the skills that were going to be introduced for our next unit in math,” said Ruehrwein. “The concept of Formative Instructional Practice is helping teachers to look closely at our students and provide interventions for students who need it.”
There’s no excuse of I forgot my textbook in LES science classes! LES science teachers are exploring and teaching through virtual labs, online textbooks, and discussion boards with their students. Students interact with both their teacher and peers online to work collaboratively and independently. This has helped teachers differentiate lessons for all of their students.
“The Discovery Education Techbook has helped me reach all of my students in many ways,” said LES Fourth Grade Teacher Brandie Carter. “All of my students are able to sign on the site, launch an assignment, and complete tasks. There are many activities provided by Techbook that directly relate to the science standards. Students have access to hands-on activities, short video assignments, reading passages, and viewing or creating electronic poster boards.”
Learning isn’t just for students. Teachers are working on expanding their own growth mindset and innovation through monthly meetings for professional development. They are reflecting on their work in these meetings through reading articles and journaling.
“Reading about the challenges that teachers face and seeing how they overcome their own fears and try new things is so inspiring,” said Innovative Instructional Coach Susan Craig. “They want to make themselves better for the students they teach and for the future. Being risk takers and letting students see you try and fail is one of the greatest things that teachers can do. It is fearless – and fearless educators make for fearless students.”
Photo caption: LECC Students in Jessica Ritz’s class (L to R) Dylan Hildebrand, Jocelyn Hess and Emily Hatfield-Gonzalez work on computers.