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Excited to Learn VISION


Higgins’ pre-k students are excited to use the class’ iPads. He says many of the students in the low-income district don’t have access to this technology at home so they look for- ward to coming school.


Casting a Vision for Technology many grants and free


tools available for schools and districts looking to


When it comes to technology in the classroom, a common question is where to fi nd funding. A better question, however, is how to cast a vision for technology. If viewing our digital edition, click here to fi nd many grants and free tools available for schools and districts looking to implement more technology in the classroom. Access our digital edition at www. ok-living.coop or fi nd our FREE app at the Apple Newsstand, Google Play or Amazon.


Higgins himself wasn’t raised around tech- nology; his family fi rst got a computer when he was a junior in high school. However, after that he became fascinated by technology and invested in learning more about it. As a teacher, he wondered, “If technology makes life easier at home, why can’t it help at school too?”


And it has. Higgins says engaging the kids can sometimes be challenging, but using the class’ 10 iPads is an easy way to get them involved.


“If they don’t want to be here it’s diffi cult to get them to do anything,” he says. “When they want to learn they’re more attentive and have better behavior.”


Higgins, who serves as the technology mentor for his school, was awarded the 2015 Statewide Touchstone Energy Cooperatives SKIE Award, recognized for his transforma- tive use of technology in the classroom. This award, and other grants, have provided fund- ing for the iPads and MacBook Pro laptops, now found in each classroom at the Early Childhood Center.


Higgins’ passion for his kids shines as he invests time in creating lesson plans that use their high-tech classroom equipment, often networking with other educators via Twitter to share ideas. Last year, Higgins’ students grew a “QR Garden.” They lined the hallway with colorful fl owers they created. In the cen- ter of each fl ower was a QR code. The kids scanned the codes with an iPad and learned about colors, numbers and letters.


Higgins has observed how technology has taught students problem solving skills and has encouraged them to be more creative. The kids regularly enjoy learning coding through apps like “Flappy Bird,” learning to


write and spell using a letter tracing app, and learning basic robotics with Higgins’ sphero robot. “A lot of people think of technology in the hands of kids a babysitter,” he says. “With a small amount of help and perspective, kids can do things you’d never imagine. It’s pretty amazing.”


Planning for Technology In the suburban school district of Jenks,


Okla., creating a district-wide technology plan was a critical step in equipping the school with technology. Jenks West Elementary Principal Suzanne


Lair says much of the district’s funding for technology comes from bond funds. “We’ve been very fortunate to have parents and community members who regularly pass bond propositions,” Lair says. As part of the technology plan, each of


school district’s seven campuses has an Instructional Technology Contact Teacher on site. This teacher is available to help col- leagues integrate technology into their class- rooms, provide trainings and assist with troubleshooting. Angela Timmons is the technology contact for Jenks West Elementary and was recog- nized by PBS as one of three Oklahoma Digital Innovators in 2015. She teaches in a multi-age fi rst- and second-grade class where she integrates technology into her lesson plans in fun and creative ways.


“These kids are the ‘iGeneration.’ They don’t remember a time without technology,” Timmons says. “Technology is the way to en- gage them.”


Timmons’ students regularly use Skype to read with a classroom in Missouri via video chat. She challenges her students’ geography skills with “Mystery Skype,” which connects them with students around the world. They receive clues to help them guess where the other


Timmons’ students took a “virtual fi eld trip” to the National Dinosaur Monument Utah, where a park ranger took them on a live tour of the dinosaur quarry and taught them paleontology basics.


Wyatt Bertrand, a kindergarten student at Jenks West Elementary, learns on one of the classroom’s Chromebooks.


students are located. Last month in


“With limited funding for fi eld trips, this is a free way for the kids to see and experience really cool things,” Timmons says.


According to Timmons, digital tools also help students who may be behind in certain areas. For example, students who have diffi culty writing due to their fi ne mo- tor development are able to produce stories


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