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Teachers Become Students To Learn Technology Integration

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(credit: CBS) Tracy Perlman
Twin Cities native Tracy Perlman is an Emmy Award-winning producer and...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It may be summer break, but some teachers were back in the classroom Tuesday. This time, they were the students — learning how to best integrate technology into their lesson plans.

“I’m absolutely learning more tools than a person’s able to use in a year or even two,” said Warroad High School teacher Terry Sadler. “This workshop has been inspirational. Technology has been the biggest change so far in my 20 year career. It’s moving so quickly.”

This fall the hundred teachers who are attending the workshop at St. Thomas University won’t ask their students to put away their cell phones, cameras and iPads, they’ll instead tell them to take them out and learn with them.

“Of course the students know more, we have a hard time keeping up,” said Jen Legatt, technology integration specialist at Spring Lake Park Schools.

She said most of the districts already have the technology in their buildings, they’re just afraid or unaware how to use it.

“One big change in education is teachers need to let students lead them and teach them, because a lot of time kids know the tricks of the trade that can change the classroom,” she said.

Legatt emphasized lessons become more meaningful to students when they can figure it out themselves, and not just listen to a teacher dictate from the front of the classroom.

“When technology is in student’s hands, they can become the creator and finder of information. Now the teacher’s not the core place where they get knowledge,” she said.

Discovering how to use the tools to learn more is exactly why the teachers got to hold, play and use iPads, cameras and computers. Once they’ve gotten their hands on the technology, they can see how it’ll best fit into their curriculum. And show other teachers in their district how to integrate them too.

“It’s been really eye opening to see that what I’ve been looking at is really just a small portion of what’s out there,” Linda Strahan, a special education teacher at Hill-Murray School said.

“I’ve already learned how to use an iPad better as well as my students be able to use some of the available technology for their special needs, whatever they may be,” she said. “I’m finding week after week, more and more available adaptive-tech for my students that is inexpensive, readily available and easy to use.”

Legatt says while the basics for teaching haven’t changed, the standards of what types of tools are used are.

“It’s not about the standards anymore, it’s about what kids need to take away and what experience they need to have in school. 6:38 so when they leave for business or college they have the skills they’re ready for that next step,” she said.

Many publishers are creating apps in lieu of books, and in most cases, they’re cheaper.

A pilot program in California last year found kids who used an Algebra app in math class, got higher test scores than their peers who used traditional text books.

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