21st Century Instruction at Edgewood Elementary
Classroom instruction across the country has evolved dramatically since the onset of the Information Age. The effects of these changes are evident in every classroom at Edgewood Elementary. From reading to physical education, the Edgewood staff seamlessly infuses technology into their daily lessons. Technology-integrated lessons have an intrinsically motivating quality, expand the classroom boundaries, and allow Edgewood students to express their ideas in limitless ways.
The Global Classroom
Technology has allowed Edgewood students to connect and collaborate with students and content area experts worldwide. Through the use of Polycom video conferencing equipment and Web 2.0 tools like Skype, Edgewood students have been able to work with students in Texas and South Dakota, and as far away as India and Ghana. Through virtual field trips, students have conversed with and received instruction from experts at places like the Columbus and St. Louis Zoos. These experiences not only provided the Edgewood students with access to the most relevant and current subject matter, but also have gone far to expand their cultural awareness and worldviews.
Beyond the Written Report
The demise of the simple written report on the elementary level is inevitable. Instead of copying information from the typical reference sources and turning-in a very neatly written article, Edgewood students, through the use of technology, eagerly create multimedia presentations. Edgewood students, kindergarten through sixth grade, now express their ideas and information through video and audio podcasts, online video, Wikispaces, animation, and e-books. For example, Edgewood News and Views is a weekly webcast highlighting the classroom activities and school news produced with teacher guidance by Edgewood sixth grade students. These activities are engaging and instill a true love of learning.
The Woodland Hills School District has made a significant investment in instructional technology in recent years. Every Edgewood Elementary classroom is equipped or has access to interactive Promethean Boards and/or Mobi View Units for hands-on engaging instruction. Teachers regularly incorporate classroom computers and use iPods (loaded with more than 300 educational apps) for not so basic academic drill and practice activities. All students have monitored e-mail accounts, and teachers often provide instruction and assignments through a newly integrated web-based course management system. Students submit assignments via blogs, e-mail, and/or virtual drop boxes. Through a generous Highmark grant, Edgewood physical education students receive dance instruction and practice with the assistance of Wii Gaming Systems. In addition to classroom computers, the Edgewood students are fortunate to have access to three computer labs equipped with PC and Mac machines. It’s a rare occurrence to observe an Edgewood teacher presenting material using only the chalkboard.
The Flipped Classroom
This school year the Edgewood teachers have begun to implement the “Flipped” Classroom instructional format. A relatively new concept developed by Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, two innovative high school science teachers from Woodland Park Colorado. The teacher provides students with the typical content presentation, usually done during the school day, via an online video or webcast. The homework assignment is to watch the presentation at home be prepare for guided practice the next day in school. The practice activities previously done at home for homework are completed in school with assistance of the teacher.
The Flipped Classroom has been well received by Edgewood students and staff alike. It allows students who are absent to easily keep-up and promotes differentiated instruction by allowing students to work at their own pace. Students have access to the content well beyond the time spent on it in class for review or reinforcement. Currently, all Edgewood teachers have flipped lessons posted to their online classroom web sites.
21st Century Students
Technology is no longer viewed as an extravagance in education, but a vital part of daily instruction and learning. Edgewood Elementary teachers and staff firmly believe that learning does not stop at the end of the school day, information is not just at the front of the room, and that students should be actively engaged. Today’s students come from 21st Century homes equipped with myriad of technologies. It only makes sense, to use these very same tools to teach them in a manner and an environment in which they are most comfortable.