As any educator will no doubt agree, stepping outside of the traditional classroom box can lead to innovations that result in extraordinary experiences. And sometimes, as Arizona’s Yuma Elementary School District One discovered, those innovations are already sitting in the classroom, waiting to be discovered.
The technology-rich district has always put an emphasis on ensuring students have access to devices even before it rolled out a personalized one-to-one initiative. But educators wanted to take that richness to the next level.
“The technology wasn’t always being used to its fullest potential—there was a conversation about how to ignite that change,” said Christa Fairman, an educational technology specialist in the district.
“We would talk about the greatest resource we have, and that’s our students,” she said.
The district is one of two Community Winners in the eSchool Media and Xirrus Innovate to Educate awards program, which recognizes the unique ways schools and districts are leveraging technology to improve student learning.
When educators thought about bringing technology use to a new level by tapping into the district’s biggest resource, a new idea was born: the iTEAM KiDS Technology Ambassador Program.
Through the program, elementary and middle school students help teachers and other students learn to effectively use different technology tools and integrate them into instruction, assignments and projects. The students work with a teacher at each school and build problem-solving and teamwork skills.
iTEAM KiDS launched in the fall of 2014, and a year later, Fairman said teachers reported that the program was helping them manage and troubleshoot devices and introduce new apps and technology concepts to students.