Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 24, 2014

Gadgets galore at Cardinal schools

By DIANE VANCE | Sep 13, 2013
Courtesy of: KALA MILLER A student in Kala Miller’s science class at Cardinal Middle School uses a computer program called Automate to complete assignments and take quizzes. The student performs the work on a tablet computer known as a Kuno.

ELDON — Cardinal middle school and high school students and teachers have been using Kuno tablets and the educational program CurriculumLoft Cloud for nearly a year, enabling technology to be used as a tool for teaching and learning.

Kuno tablets replaced MacBooks in October. Kuno was chosen because it accesses CurriculumLoft, a mobile learning system.

Kuno has a 9.7-inch touch screen, weighs a little more than 1 pound and incorporates a full-size keyboard and a mouse pad. Teachers can control their laptops from the tablet while walking around the room.

The Kuno tablets also have the ability to print.

All grades 6-12 students have a Cardinal email attached to their Kuno tablet and can work at home without connecting to the internet.

CurriculumLoft Cloud delivers curriculum content, videos, lessons and activities and allows teachers to create their own lessons and add to the cloud to share with other classes.

Teachers can select to send different activities or lessons to students within the same class.

Cardinal high school math teacher Jay Olson recently implemented Automate, and both he and the students liked the experience.

On the CurriculumLoft website, curriculumloft.com, Automate is described as automating the “assessment process for teachers, saving time that can be spent on instruction. Assessments can be delivered to students via the web or an Android device, and students can turn-in work electronically for automatic grading.

“Nearly any type of assessment — homework, tests, quizzes, activities and projects — can be created and distributed to students on mobile devices. Assessments can be tied to specific units and content in CurriculumLoft Cloud and aligned to standards.”

Olson said he’s used Automate to complete a couple of assignments with students. Both students and teacher use the program on Kuno.

An activity with Algebra problems is worked online, on each student’s Kuno tablet, and the program knows the correct answers, so there’s not a wait time to see if a student understands the problems and process to solve them.

“The feedback has been great,” said Olson.

“I used it in Algebra and students enjoyed using the technology to complete their work rather than using paper and pencil like they are used to doing,” he said.

“It was nice for me as I could walk around the room with my tablet and help with questions, and at the same time have almost immediate feedback on which students were finished and how far other students were from completing the assignment.”

Once an assignment was completed, Olson checked scores for individual students and had them go back and retry the problems as needed.

“This type of formative assessment helps guide what we will work on next in class,” he said. “The instant feedback is great for me as well as the students.”

 

Meeting the world through Skype

Elementary grades also use technology in learning.

Fourth grade teacher Alecia Gardner has begun an ambitious project to Skype (computer phone calling with live video of speakers at each connection) with people in all 50 states.

“In addition to our 50 states, I have people lined up in Singapore, Malaysia, China and Germany to Skype with, and I’m working to get others,” she said.

“Learning is built on background knowledge,” said Gardner. “Our aim is to provide students with more experiences to build that background knowledge, support them in their learning, create opportunities for discoveries and to learn along with them.”

Gardner said she sees a difference in the power of “getting out” of the building and seeing the world. Knowing her fourth grade students would be studying about the U.S. and the world through geography, she wanted to help students put a face with a place.

“I want to give them an experience to help make connections, and then the learning will happen,” she said. “We need relationships in our lives to guide us. So, why not guide them with relationships established around the world.

“We’ve started Skyping and we talked with an online writer in Utah, who gave us writing advice,” said Gardner. “We talked with a paramedic in Nebraska who gave us a tour of her ‘rig’ and explained how paramedics help the community.

“This week with the anniversary of 9/11, I realized my students were not alive in 2001. They need more than just reading about it. A friend in New York found someone willing to speak with us. Wednesday morning we listened to Mary Beth Easley of Brooklyn tell her story. She shared her fear and thoughts about that day. My students were able to ask questions, listened respectfully and were completely engaged.”

Thursday, the class Skyped with a soldier, Master Sgt. Amy Miller in Kabul. Miller explained about her job in Afghanistan.

“She answered the students’ questions honestly,” said Gardner. “They were blown away by the fact she was in Afghanistan. They wrote great reflections about the war and the soldiers who are fighting daily to protect our freedoms. Students wrote silently for 25 minutes — all writing, focused and completely oblivious to anything else. Before this Skype, our writing stamina was only up to 15 minutes.”

Another upcoming Skype session will be with a student’s parent who will connect with the class on a visit to the Las Vegas Strip.

“In social studies we’re working on mapping and creating maps with landmarks, not just landforms,” said Gardner. “The parent will be sharing which maps would be helpful in Las Vegas and about the climate, landscape and a little about what they see.”

Anatomy in holograph

On Sept. 24, a consultant with zSpace is coming to Gardner’s classroom to give a presentation.

zSpace is an interactive hardware and software platform that users can interact with in a three-dimensional, holographic-like image.

A consultant is sharing this technology tool with fourth graders to begin the science study about body systems.

“zSpace is a three-D system that’s absolutely amazing,” said Gardner. “Students will be able to wear special glasses and ‘hold’ a heart. The goal is to spur excitement, make connections and give students an experience they don’t have on a normal basis.

“zSpace has endless uses, but I want my students to have a tangible connection through this technology to introduce our new science curriculum,” she said.

According to information on zspace.com, this technology tool blends the “physical world with a sensory-rich virtual world where people can naturally and intuitively manipulate and navigate. zSpace revolutionizes the way people learn, play and create.”

Photos and information about Gardner’s class activities are available at her website aleciagardner.weebly.com and her blog at aleciagardner.blogspot.com.

 

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