Tara Pipes’ love of teaching was rekindled after Norte Elementary School began the Kyrene Teaches with Technology Program.
“It’s like starting teaching all over again,” the nine-year veteran said while seated in a reading circle with her thirdgrade students.
Pipes said using technology such as laptops and a projector has helped her students become more engaged and invigorated her classroom. She’s also learning new teaching strategies daily.
It’s one reason why the Kyrene Elementary School District was among just three schools in the nation recently named a “Salute District” by the National School Boards Association in Washington, D.C. The honor recognizes districts for using technology to promote student achievement.
The Kyrene program puts technology in the hands of faculty and students while encouraging teamwork and professional development among teachers. Teachers also have access to a data warehouse where they can retrieve state test scores with the click of a mouse.
About 400 teachers are involved in the program, which will be in most classrooms by next year.
On Wednesday, some students in Pipes’ room answered questions on
worksheets while others researched the Olympics on wireless laptop computers. A projector hooked up to a laptop flashed class objectives for a reading assignment on a screen at the front of the room.
Mark Share, district director of technology, stressed that equipment enhances instruction and learning.
“It’s not the ‘stuff’ that counts. It’s what we do with it that matters,” Share said.
The program has been in the works for the past five years.
Spencer Fallgatter, Norte’s principal, credits the program for a slight boost in enrollment, and said students love the changes.
“I’ve been in a class where I’ve seen a child pick up a laptop like a book and go sit in a corner,” Fallgatter said. “They respond really well to it.”
The district hasn’t collected hard numbers to see if there has been a rise in academic achievement, but Share said principals and teachers report better focus in the classroom.
Nicholas Valencia, 8, said he really likes using the computers during class assignments because it’s fun. “You get to go on loads of stuff,” he said.
Kyrene administrators will be honored at a technology leadership conference in November.