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Tech Savvy: Technology in the classroom

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BY JESSI PIERCE

I can’t say that I much recall the days where there wasn’t one computer in the classroom. We began taking typing classes in middle school, prepping us on letter location on keyboards and how to not look down when punching the keys — a tool that you can imagine has come in handy as a journalist. We had number munchers and word munchers, interactive games that helped teach and the infamous Oregon Trail, too. Calculators were also a common tool and we even designed our own websites as part of a class in eighth grade.

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Yes, we had our digital advancements in education during generations X and Y, but nothing to what is available and used in today’s classrooms, even here in the Brainerd lakes area.

At Forestview Middle School, students can use iPads, Kindles and EBooks to check out items from the library. Kindergarten classes at the elementary schools have iPods and many of the schools have digitized chalk boards for easy cleaning and writing.

The great thing about technology learning is the available options for interaction, something that excites kids to learn. The options are endless in games available on iPhones, iPads and computers that will have your kid enjoying themselves so much they just might forget they are learning.

Pencil and paper learning of course will never become obsolete, but as technology continues to advance, so will the way our children learn.

BY PHIL SEIBEL

This past week I spent a little time learning about a new program called Class Dojo. Based on the basic principle that positive reinforcement will build an encouraging learning atmosphere, Class Dojo aims to give teachers a tool that will help them spend less time controlling their classes, and getting group buy-in for students to try their best.

To use the program a teacher needs to sign up for a FREE account (free for teachers forever!) and then complete their profile. Once they have set up their account, the teacher can create their “classes” using avatars to list all the children in their class. After that, you’re ready to rock!

Here’s how it works: Throughout the day, as the teacher guides the children through their education, they have the opportunity to award the children positive “feedback points” when they do something positive. This could be helping with a classroom task, doing well on their homework by showing all their work, or working together with other students on a project. Teachers can customize the items that students can get points for to match their particular needs and they can also create multiple classes so they can keep everything organized. There are also buttons that allow the teacher to detract points if the student is disruptive; again the buttons are customizable, so there is some balance to the program. At the end of the class, the teacher ends that session and the results are logged. The teacher can then pull reports on all of the behaviors they logged and can then send the results as a report card to each individual student’s parents.

For students the process is equally easy. Once their teacher creates a class the student is given a unique class code that they can enter at the Class Dojo website. Once logged in they can customize their avatar, view their classes, and also see their individual report cards. They can also see their classmates listed and a list of the classes they participate in. Using this they can log in and show their parents when they had a good day at school, and stay more engaged even when they are not in class.

(Phil Seibel, Dispatch digital manager, may be reached at 855-5862 or phil.seibel@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pseibel(@pseibel).)

(Jessi Pierce, Dispatch staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or jessi.pierce@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jessi_pierce (@jessi_pierce).)

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