Ledger & Times, Murray, July 16, 2016
School in summertime
Calloway County educators tackle technology in the classroom
By JORDAN FERGUSON
School was in session Friday for teachers of the Calloway County School System as 170 teachers filled the main campus at Calloway County High School and Middle School during a professional development day centered around technology in the classroom.
Calloway County Superintendent Tres Settle said the day is meant to bring teachers the knowledge to help them reach kids who are part of an ever increasing digital world.
“Through conversations we have had with other administrators and principals on teacher needs (we decided to devote a day for technology training),” he said. “Former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welsh, once said ‘when the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near,’ and such is true in education.”
The day centered around opportunities to brush up on some technological know-how, in particular, educators learned about a series of platforms they can utilize in the classroom to better engage their students, as well as reduce some of their workload.
“We are dealing with a digital age and a digital student. Teachers have to continue to stay on top of their game and look for resources that will engage students in the classroom,” Settle said. “That has been a big focus for us professionally, engaging students.
“We are looking at Google apps, short video clips, things like that which are more real-world to a teenager or a young person.”
This is the second year Calloway County has offered this training, with Settle saying last year they concentrated on some different areas within technology. Among the technologies this year were programs such as Google Apps, Google Drive, Google Classroom, Microsoft One Drive, Kentucky PBS Learning Media and SchoolPointe.
PBS Learning Media, for example, offers teachers of various subjects a wealth of supplementary materials to help with their classes. The website features short videos, such as one minute bios on presidents, to get a healthy amount of information into a relatively short period of time with the aim of keeping student’s attention.
Those educating the educators Friday included instructors from Murray State University, representatives from Schoolpointe and other teachers from within the Calloway school system who have already utilized programs such as Google Drive.
One such educator was Noraa Ransey, a teacher who has been utilizing Google Drive and Classroom for her students at North Elementary.
“My session is 50/50 Google Drive — how it makes our lives easier—and Google Classroom, how I use it with students and how it can make life easier for instructing and assessing students,” she said. “Before we had shared folders on a hard drive on one machine at school. With Google Drive I have all my folders still, but I can share them with teachers — I can open it from my phone, from my house, from church, from the grocery store. If my principal needs my schedule, I can upload it to my phone through the Google app and send it to her. I don’t have to be in a certain place at a certain time to work on it, it is just so much easier.
“Google Classroom is an easy way to collect all of that (work), all of the student’s work and assignments are all organized, Google does all of the work for me,” Ransey said. “I’m not creating anything, when I sign up for Google Classroom I have that folder created and every time I make an assignment it is doing that work for me. It is saving me time, it is making it easier to collaborate (with other teachers), easier to instruct and to assess.”
Ransey said she had been using these Google platforms for the past two years with her second and third grade students, with good results. Therefore, she was asked if she would show others in the school system how to utilize these programs in their classrooms.
“It’s something easy but when you haven’t had someone show you how easy it is, it’s not easy,” she said. “Because you are looking at it and thinking you’ve never done this before. Teachers are instructing each other.”