Technology Innovation in the Classroom

Toci PicFor Kate Toci, technology is more than just another tool to teach her third-graders at Imagine Schools-Camelback, a K-8 charter school in Phoenix.

Toci uses the iPads, apps, laptops and even the Apple TV installed in her classroom to capture their attention and spark their natural curiosity for learning.

Toci has integrated numerous forms technology into her classroom, ranging from online geography lessons that allow students to interact with other classes across the country, to apps that warn the class when they’re getting too noisy. As a result of her initiatives, Toci has been named a finalist for Imagine Teacher of the Year, where the national network of schools picks its top teacher.

The classroom innovations rise above the standard internet-based textbooks and one-to-one laptop programs implemented in many schools and classrooms.

“They are inherently interested in working with technology,” Toci said.  “Something as simple as using a flashcard app on an iPad will promote more focused attention and practice than using normal paper flash cards.”

Although some of the simpler programs can captivate her students, Toci’s uncommon innovations have created a unique environment that has not only resulted in increased classroom focus, but also more interaction.

For example, Toci has downloaded an app that allows her to project barcode scanners onto the walls and screens in her classroom so students can use their iPads to scan their assignments and receive feedback.

When the students scan their work, which they complete on their iPads, they can hear a recording from Toci giving feedback on how she solved the problem.

Toci also uses the Apple TV and a “mirroring” feature on the iPads to project her students’ assignments onto the device, giving them the opportunity to explain their assignments to the rest of the class.

“When I am working with small groups for more differentiated instruction, I can post student work on the Apple TV and have them explain to the group how they got the answer,” she said. “This helps students practice explaining their work.”

The Apple TV even helps monitor student behavior. Tocci can post a “noise meter” app on the device that will spike when the classroom noise level rises. When the class keeps the noise level low, they can receive incentives, which are tracked through a point system on the class website, she said.

Toci developed a fondness for technology when she was younger, growing up as part of the first generation with home access to some of the newer technology. She has continued to stoke her desire to learn by attending technology and education conferences.

She also credits her school administration with providing her the support she needs to integrate apps, programs and devices, and attend the conferences.

Ultimately, she benefits from the technology innovations just as much as her students.

“I am also very creative and enjoy making new things so I think technology has been creative outlet for me and I really enjoy playing with it as much as the kids do,” she said.

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