Technology in the primary grades
Allie Brooks, an elementary technology teacher at Brookland Elementary, says the TIE training has enhanced the use of technology by both teachers and students at her school. For instance, using a program demonstrated in the TIE cadre training, Microsoft Photo Story, all students in grades K-3 have created digital scrapbooks. In the elementary computer lab, Brooks’ students developed a Teacher Appreciation Scrapbook. First, students took digital images of one another in a favorite classroom setting. With help, they downloaded those images and imported them into Photo Story. Next, the students added their names and edited fonts, colors, and motion. With guidance, students then recorded a narration to accompany the image: “I like my teacher because…” Finally, as a group, students chose background music and helped create a teacher title page.
Students invited their teachers to the computer lab during Teacher Appreciation Week to view the scrapbook on a SMART Board. Many teachers were so touched that they cried during the showing. The teachers liked the concept so much that they began to incorporate digital stories about events and experiences into their own curricula, culminating in an end-of-the-year digital scrapbook. Students learned many skills throughout the project, and the teachers developed a better understand of technology integration and its importance. This would not have been achieved without the TIE training.
Special-needs students shine using technology
Stacey Tatera, K-12 technology coordinator for the Arkansas School for the Deaf (ASD), described what happened when her school hosted the First Annual ASD Film Festival on May 15, 2009. The event was the culmination of a school-wide professional development program focusing on Digital Storytelling, which stemmed from the Arkansas TIE Cadre.
Teachers were trained in the use of Microsoft Movie Maker as part of their introduction to digital storytelling. Owing to the highly visual elements inherent in a digital story, it is an important medium for use by and for students who are deaf. Students across campus created movies that were three to five minutes long and centered on the festival theme, “My World.” Middle and high school students created their digital stories independently; elementary school students participated by class. Rules for the film festival included a requirement that all spoken or signed language must be represented in written text. This was to ensure equal access to the movies by both deaf and hearing viewers.
During the film festival, students, teachers, parents, and community members were invited to screen the individual movies. The winning movie in the High School/Middle School division focused on the effects of bullying. The winning movie in the Elementary School division was entitled “ASD is My World.” Prizes were awarded to the top three finishers in each division.
The film festival was such a tremendous success that plans are underway for the Second Annual ASD Film Festival. Projects are posted for viewing on the TIE web site.
TIE enhances teaching and learning
TIE has boosted technology professional development training throughout the state. Since the project’s conception, more than 275 trainings have been offered through the service centers, with countless more in participating districts. Through these trainings, more than 2,600 teachers have explored ways to keep students engaged in learning through the use of technology. In the words of one of our cadre members, “This is a great project, and I know my teachers are excited about having something new to learn during technology training! I love TIE Cadre. What a great idea for Arkansas!!!”
Phoebe Bailey is assistant director of the Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperative.