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Two days into the second half of the school year, students in Tatum Nowlin’s fifth grade class at New Albany Elementary School already know how to work and maneuver the new classroom technology.
This classroom, along with three other ones at NAES and one each at the four county schools, received a technology gift of a new classroom instruction system from eInstruction.
This system entails a mobile interactive whiteboard for the teacher, fixed touch screen interactive whiteboard (for the wall), student response devices, also known as clickers, and examination software to help prepare students for state testing.
These technology gifts are from the Appalachian Regional Commission, a division of the Governor’s office, eInstruction, and Three Rivers Planning and Development District.
Mike Armour, executive director with the Appalachian Regional Commission Mississippi, said, “We were pleased to help with this grant, because Gov. Bryant is extremely dedicated to education. Our students’ education is foremost on our minds, especially since these children will be competing globally.”
Randy Kelley, executive director with Three Rivers, said, “Our goal is for every classroom in Three Rivers’ eight counties to one day have this technology. Right now, a lot of the classes have elements of the technology, but not entire systems like these that were donated.”
“This is only the second day back at school and the students already love the new technology and already know how to use it all. They are excited about doing class work and homework,” said Nowlin. “The students can take a test using their clickers and I can immediately see their grade and what answers they got right and wrong. If I see that some got the answer wrong, I can choose to stop the class and give a mini-lesson and allow those students to go back and change their answers before I move on to the next topic.”
The mobile interactive whiteboard for the teacher is called the Mobi 360. It has a personal touch screen that allows the teacher to annotate over and control lesson content while walking around the classroom helping the students.
She said, “I can do everything from my Mobi. I can teach the class, I can give assignments, I can give tests, and the software automatically grades the students’ answers for me. I can create a time limit for the students or not. It usually takes a long time to grade papers, but this technology saves me hours every day because it saves the work and grades it immediately. I am able to spend more time on interactive lessons and work with the students one-on-one.”
Samir Joglekar, senior vice president of sales at eInstruction, said, “As districts look to bring best practices into the classroom, bridge the gap to higher level learning, and meet new digital assessment requirements, it has become increasingly important to fully evaluate the many solutions and products available on the market. eInstruction is honored to play an active role in the implementation and evaluation of this new technology in several local classrooms.”
The students will have access to the clickers all year long, but they are not allowed to leave the classroom. The clickers allow the students to instantly answer multiple choice, multiple correct, numerical and true-false questions.
Any subject can be taught using this technology, students can write on the board with their finger or a specialized pen, and the teacher has access to the Internet as well to allow for more interactive education.
Kaitlin Horne, 10, a student in Nowlin’s class, said, “I think it’s pretty neat that we can do our work using the clickers. We can look at the paper and write down the answer, then use the clicker to enter it in. The board is really neat too. You can walk up to it and touch it, write on it, and learn about any subject we want to. It’s really cool.”
Braulio Cuellar, 10, another student in the class, said, “This new technology is awesome. We can touch it, we can write our name with our finger, our teacher can call us up to the board to draw a triangle and if we didn’t draw it perfectly straight, the board will correct it and make it straight. It’s really awesome.”
Windy Faulkner, principal at NAES, said, “We’ve got to find ways to reach these kids. Getting new technology will reach them and keep them focused, especially since it is so interactive with the students. The new technology is great and I am really happy that four classrooms here received this new technology.”
The Center for Educational Research and Evaluation at the University of Mississippi will assist in the evaluation of the technology pilot project with additional support from the North Mississippi Education Consortium, which will provide services to teachers who will be using this technology in their classrooms.
Five schools in Union County, four schools in Lee County, and five schools in Pontotoc County are all receiving this new technology.