Sixth graders at Warwick Neck Elementary became the teachers last Thursday as the school celebrated Digital Learning Day with a “tech fair.”
The national digital learning day is actually celebrated on Feb. 17, but because schools will be on February vacation, Warwick Neck decided to host theirs a week early.
The movement began in 2012 to create a space in which educators can highlight the innovation that comes when teachers and instructional technology come together.
Because of the vastness of educational software, Digital Learning Day is an opportunity for teachers to share best practices, those programs that have worked best for their students and possibly learn about new ones.
Principal Patricia Cousineau is part of a principals’ technology cohort and has been learning about different technologies, some of which had already been implemented in the school, over the past several months.
She said digital learning is engaging, promotes collaboration amongst students and helps to further personalize education, allowing students to work at their pace.
Warwick Neck sixth graders not only received Chromebooks a little more than a month ago, but already they have taken off with using the technology daily. Cousineau recruited 24 sixth graders to create presentations on their favorite programs that they presented on Thursday morning. These students worked together in groups through recess and even through snow days to put together their slides.
Finally on Thursday there were 13 presentations on the programs: Emaze and Prezi, both online presentation software, Sum Dog, IXL, and Xtra Math which provide different educational games in math and language arts, Kahoot, Zaption or Animoto where teachers and students can create their own games and videos, Game Froot and Code.org, which helps children learn how to code software, group writing tools such as Boom Writer and Google Docs as well as Google Classroom.
For the assembly all of the participating sixth graders set up their presentation throughout the gymnasium in a sort of “tech fair”. Then, all of the younger grades visited each presentation with their teachers, and were encouraged to use one over February vacation.
“This was a way to share what’s been happening in our schools and it’s important that our students feel validated,” Cousineau said. “This is how we get kids hooked on learning. The younger kids see the older ones using this and they want to too.”
She said not only are students learning from their peers things that are already put to use throughout the school, but older students are given the opportunity to be leaders.
Denise Bilodeau, technology applications assessment coordinator for Warwick Public Schools, attended the tech fair and was amazed at what the students were able to accomplish having regular access to Chromebooks only a month ago.
She said its essential students become familiarized with technology because, “the students we are education now, the jobs they’ll have eventually haven’t even been identified yet, but there is no doubt they will all be based in technology.”
The tech fair wasn’t just for the students; teachers were encouraged to try new programs as well.
Both Bilodeau and Cousineau said that digital learning allows teachers to expand their curriculum; giving them the tools they need to best prepare students for the future.
“Teachers just take off with this,” Bilodeau said.
The sixth graders with presentations for Digital Learning Day were Caitlin McCabe, Ryan Baker, Brandon Pham, Jacob Hamilton, Layala Sotski, Leah Guillemette, Alexis Theberge, Ethan Arraial, Aaliyah Smith, Aidan Battey, Anabella Aldridge, Connor Aylesworth, Damian Cardilli, Zackery Hammick, Connor Williams, Brady Burke, Connor Widmer, Mandy-Lynn Phillips, Rylee Roche. Ally Neri, James Lockhart, Nathan DosRemedios, Nathan Sweeny and Christopher Dube.
For more information onf Digital Learning Day visit, www.digitallearningday.org.