Memorial Composite High School’s mission is to foster learning within a positive and caring environment and today I had the opportunity to tour around the school specifically seeing how staff and students are effectively integrating technology into the learning environment.
There are 1200 grades 10-12 students that walk the hallways and enter the various classrooms at Memorial. The place is shiny new (since February 2010) and the staff and students are readily engaged in using their smartboards, software, hardware and instructional strategies. (Grand Opening video found HERE.)
The tour took me mainly through the CTS (Career and Technology Studies) area of the school.
- In the Yearbook course, students were in the GreenScreen room taking photos of each other to superimpose (using Photoshop) onto an airplane. As well, once back in the computer lab, they each had yearbook page assignments already in progress. It was great to see the excitement from this group, their ability to keep each other accountable and the ease of use with the technology at hand (digital cameras, hardware, Adobe software).
· In the Comm-Tech area, students were silk-screening, working on photography projects (using Adobe and Corel with 24” monitors, a few larger tablets and LCD monitors). Teacher Jim Letts indicating that in grade 12 students work closely with the community in making posters, banners, stickers, t-shirts, etc. giving them an authentic experience into the customer service/signage industry. As well, throughout Memorial, Comm-Tech’s work is seen with various posters, signs, shirts, etc.
· The Automotives area is set up just like an autoshop – bays, work areas, computer stations. Here students get an understanding of the maintenance of vehicles as well as being informed owners/operators. Teacher Chad Pidhaichuk gave an overview of the importance and costs associated with licensing of online automotive manuals as well as an interactive textbook for students. Neat to see the rubber rollup keyboards by the work stations – easier to clean and use in this environment!
· A quick tour of the Fabrication showed the amazing laser welding equipment, a Plasma Cutter that cuts metal into intricate shapes. Students first create an original design using Corel Draw, then the Plasma Cutter cuts it out.
· There was a brief stopover by a Science class to see a transliterator working with a hard of hearing student. With CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) everything that the teacher says is “captioned” live for the deaf/hard of hearing student. The captioning may be on a laptop screen that can be read only by one deaf person or the CART captions can be displayed on large screen for the whole class to see.
· Finally a sit down in a Pure Math 30 class where teacher Robin Boleski is using an interactive whiteboard ready online textbook and Ti calculator software simulator on the Smartboard. It was fascinating to see the teacher being able to demonstrate on his calculator on the Smartboard, and using the PDF textbook. Memorial does have two web-based textbooks – Math Works from Pacific Press and Foundations & Pre-Calculus from Pearson – both of which have videos and interact with the Smartboard’s built-in features.
Other tools found in Memorial’s toolkit include: Smart wireless slates, Smart Response XE (clickers that allow for text answers and Math formula responses). And information about school happenings can be found in their Newsletter.
An important piece of ensuring that all this technology runs smoothly is having a dedicated Technology Integration Assistant on-site. Julie Walker understands the importance of having these tech tools in fine form so that staff and students can get down to work without wasting time. She also works closely with our I.T. department.
This was just one tiny snapshot of the way some of Memorial staff are integrating technology in the school day and it was exciting! The work happening at Memorial reminds me of a “teaching in the 21st Century” youtube video I viewed awhile back…..that I will include in this blog.