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Student-Driven Learning with Tech: Judy Bragg

Techsteps2

Judy Bragg1Reviewer: Judy Bragg

Position:  Language Arts Teacher

District:  Ritchie County, Ritchie County Middle School, West Virginia

Number of Students:  400

ProductsSchoolKit TechSteps, Microsoft Office Word, Excel, Publisher, PowerPoint, Windows Movie Maker, SMARTBoard, and Webcam.

Goals:

1.  Help students develop computer literacy through research and citing skills

2.  Maintain an active learning environment

3.  Initiate critical-thinking and problem-solving skills about real world issues

4.  Integrate technology with core curricula for long-term retention of knowledge

Response:

Each year our middle school students complete challenging bundles of TechSteps tasks designed to stimulate student-driven learning by integrating technology into core content areas of study. TechSteps is our great “equalizer” among different levels and styles of academic and social development. As students create the wide range of projects, “followers” become leaders when they realize potential for success. One student actually stated:  “ I loved doing this. I looked at myself from the inside out and liked what I saw.”  (Digital Story Project)

Learning Curve:

TechSteps is a user-friendly program for students and teachers.  As one who began using TechSteps with limited technological literacy, I found myself quickly grasping each new level of creative instruction. An Activebook, complete with step-by-step instructions, is provided for each grade-level project as well as a rubric for evaluating completed work.

While supervision of our middle school students is an inherent part of our instruction, we often become “moderators” as students instinctively assume instructional roles with classmates.

How We use It:

TechSteps is used at our school to successfully integrate technology into core content classrooms so that “what” and “how” students learn relates to the world around them. Each grade level completes six different projects relevant to language arts, social studies, math, and science. Each grade’s projects build upon previous levels of difficulty so that our students enter high school with a solid assortment of technological skills. They are adept at using Microsoft Office applications, and they can readily collaborate on multimedia projects in and out of the classroom (8th Grade Graduation Ceremony).

All students complete written, oral, and visual components that are evaluated as a class grade.  TechSteps provides opportunities for our users to become “digitally savvy” while studying the world around them.

What’s Ahead:

In the future we will continue our partnership with TechSteps. Cross-curricular completion of some projects is planned. For example, my language arts classes will collaborate with our social studies classes to complete a digital story celebrating Veterans Day (shown at a community reception). We will continue to incorporate skills learned through TechSteps to other projects unique to teacher content and style, and, by doing so, we will challenge our students to take their learning to an even higher level.

Reviewer’s Notes:

Due to our high participation, Ritchie County was awarded the K-8 Activity Library as an additional resource to be implemented in our curriculum. This resource provides us with over 150 additional classroom ready technology integration activities to use.

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