Ask any parent or grandparent of school children about one of the trends in recent academia, and technology is one of the first words you'll hear. It's a loaded word – learning technology is necessary in today's world, but not at the risk of compromising exemplary curriculum. To truly work well within a classroom, technology has to transform, complement and revolutionize what is being learned.
Students use iPads in school-wide writing workshop
It's something that Bishop Guilfoyle learned early on: technology in the classroom needed to be used in tandem with a robust, multi-faceted curriculum, helping educators reach the whole student – mind, body and soul. Rather than an end goal, it's become part of maximizing learning experiences and training today's students to have healthy, balanced relationships with the technology in their lives.
Jane Yingling, language arts instructor and drama moderator says that she is not a big technology person. This year, tech in her classroom operated as just another tool to help her students learn. Students use iPads in every class, and in her class, they use them to read their textbooks, read other books or articles and often to compose essays. They also use their iPads to research different aspects of literature she asks for.
Her students are often tasked with creating power point presentations of what they've learned. “I think many students who may otherwise have a difficult time presenting in front of a class have learned to present fairly well due to the use of power points or slides,” Yingling says. “When the student has access to this type of technology, it just lends itself to better presentations.”
Tyler Moudry teaches A.P. European History, Sociology, Government and Economics. Recently, he tasked his students with going to the Library of Congress Database and examining hundreds of photographs from child labor during the Industrial Revolution. The students selected five photos which impacted them the most and created a presentation using the photographs. This is a project that would have been impossible to do without a physical trip to Washington, D.C. just a few years ago.
“I am a first-year teacher at Bishop Guilfoyle and using the iPads in the classroom is an all new experience,” Moudry says. “One app I have been excited to use this year is the explorer app. When I teach AP European History, we discuss France and Great Britain in detail, and with the app, students can travel to those areas and never leave the classroom.”
He credits the use of technology with prepping his AP students for College Board Exams. “Students in my AP European History class are developing skills to respond to Document Based Questions through the iPads. They have access to multiple primary sources, and using these primary sources, students are able to develop their thesis and overall response to a question in order to prepare for the College Board Exam.”
Because of the donation that made these iPads possible, students are able to access vast amounts of information within a classroom setting, preparing them for college. “Our students have daily practice using online programs to conduct research, design projects, and submit assignments just like in a college environment,” Moudry says. “Teachers can expect more from students as they use technology. Students are expected to be problem solvers and gain technological skills which will help them in their college career. They have a more hands-on approach in their learning.”
By championing a healthy relationship with technology in the classroom, Bishop Guilfoyle is enabling students to take ownership of their learning and prepare for their next step out of high school, one they'll be prepared for body, mind and soul.