Streetsboro third-graders take part in KSU learning lab

by Mike Lesko | Reporter Published:

Streetsboro -- Third-graders from Campus Elementary School learned about language arts and math using hands-on electronic equipment while visiting a learning lab at the Kent State University Research Center for Educational Technology.

Campus Elementary School teacher Rita Kroeger's class of 24 third-graders traveled to the lab on school buses in the mornings for six weeks starting in February and running through mid-March.

"I liked the things we were able to do," Kroeger said. "We focused on fairy tales and mythology. My students are really into that."

Students were able to use hands-on equipment including iPads and Apple TV.

"Whatever they did on the iPad, they would show on the TV," Kroeger said. "They all got to learn from each other. We had a class blog that the students used. One parent told me she'd never seen her child so excited about school. The students loved it."

Campus Principal Kristen Cottrell, who discussed the trips to the learning lab during the monthly "promising practices" segment of the March 13 Streetsboro Board of Education meeting, said one student said, "I can't explain how much fun I had going to the lab."

"That's really an awesome feeling for a student to have about his education," said Cottrell.

Students took part in an Animoto project using a visual app that allows them to put together a video, choosing music and the background style, she said.

"Students can add pictures and text [to the background]," Cottrell said. "The students were really excited to create these videos. It's a pretty cool thing for third-graders to get to do."

For this assignment, Cottrell said students read two versions of "The Three Little Pigs."

"One was the traditional version," she said. "The other was told from the point of view of the Big, Bad Wolf. Students were supposed to compare and contrast the two stories, and say which one they thought was the real story."

Cottrell said Kroeger expanded on an idea used last school year by Campus teachers Tiana Snyder and Annette Lomis, who started "what is called a 'max journal' to help students talk about how they solve problems in math and explain it in words."

So Kroeger used that idea as a starting point, according to Cottrell.

"When she went to the lab, she had the opportunity to have students work in groups and use a program called 'Educreation' where they created quick presentations on their iPads that they showed each other," Cottrell said. "They talked about how and why they came up with the answers. It's a really fun process to watch them go through."

Cottrell added she read an article recently describing the differences between a "digital native" vs. "digital immigrant."

"Our students are digital natives because they have grown up in an age where technology is prevalent," she said. "Some of us [who are older] are digital immigrants. It has not been in our world the whole time, so we're learning about it."

Kroeger said although she had heard of the program before, she got involved after talking last school year to a student teacher from Kent State who worked in the lab.

"We're excited to have this relationship with the university," she said.

Cottrell, who said the program has been in place at Kent State for 15 years, praised Kroeger for participating in six workshops last summer so she would be "proficient enough in the technology."

Cottrell said the learning lab helps "teachers integrate technology into what they already do. The students would solve a problem with an iPad and talk about how they solved it. It was really a wonderful learning experience to investigate technology."

Kroeger said she will receive a Martha Holden Jennings Foundation grant for $1,500 that will be used next school year, possibly for an Apple TV, she said.

Cottrell said she expects other Campus students to attend the KSU learning lab.

"We have the opportunity to bring other classes there," Cottrell said. "This will be a great opportunity for our district as a whole."

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9439

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