Special to The MBJ
CLINTON — Teaching methods are changing in Clinton’s public schools.
Throughout the Clinton Public School District, teachers and students are incorporating new apps and software into day-to-day instruction.
“Research shows that using these devices, apps and software is a way to get kids engaged in the learning process,” said Dr. Kameron Ball, CPSD’s director of technology. “It makes learning come alive when kids can do hands-on projects using technology.”
At Northside Elementary, CPSD’s second- and third-grade school, students recently used their iPads for research projects on animals. Northside teacher Kelleigh McLeod spearheaded a multi-classroom initiative where students used their iPads to research animals and make iMovies about what they learned. As part of the lesson, parents were invited to an Animal Wax Museum in which students dressed up as the animals they researched and played their iMovies for parents.
“Each student was assigned to research an animal and they put the facts they learned into an iMovie,” McLeod said. “They included pictures of the animals and filmed themselves talking about the animals’ habitat, diet, predators and prey and other facts.”
Keshawn Alexander, a student in Maggi Cowan’s second grade class, was assigned to research tigers.
“Tiger mothers have two to four cubs,” he said. “The cubs stay with their mother for two years.”
His movie featured photos of adult and baby tigers and video of himself talking about the big cats. His classmate Noah Wallace created a similar video on boa constrictors.
“Boas do not eat large animals,” Noah said. “They mostly eat little animals like reptiles, rats, bats, mice and birds.”
The unit concluded with a production of the play “Rumpus in the Rainforest,” which was live-streamed on www.clintonpublicschools.com .
Michael and Thea Gates, parents of second-grader Chandler Gates, said they were “very impressed” at the wax museum presentation. Chandler learned about frogs and came home talking about how frogs lay clutches of eggs and sometimes eat smaller frogs, Michael Gates said.
“With the iPad, it’s amazing how she works it,” Thea Gates said. “She was taking pictures and making movies and she talks about it all the time at home. It’s amazing. And she’s done a lot of things on her own. It’s great that the district has provided the iPads for students.”
At the ninth-grade level, Sumner Hill Junior High School counselor Heather Norton is adding two videos about bullying to students’ computers.
“I used these videos last year during the school year,” she said. “This year I want to show them to the entire student body since everyone has computers. Last year we showed them to smaller groups through our TVs.”
Students are downloading assignments and turning them in online, and doing online research projects.
At Lovett Elementary, Clinton’s sixth-grade school, students in the gifted classes recently used their MacBook Air laptops to do an online forensics science lesson.
“They conducted autopsies online and studied how forensic pathologists work in a lab setting,” said teacher Ellen Brunson. “The kids had a great time with it and they learned a lot.”
Lovett students used the interactive online labs to collect evidence, analyze that evidence and solve crimes. The project covered anthropology, biology, chemistry, odontology, toxicology, pathology, fingerprinting, ballistic analysis, trace evidence, entomology and many other sciences.
Brunson said each student chose a forensic science to research.
“They are using their laptops to make PowerPoint presentations to teach a lesson on their science,” she said. “We have also found a Web site that allows students to create games and quizzes in PowerPoint format in order to include an activity to test the students after the lesson. I can’t wait to see them teach the class.”
Students will follow up with researching for lab experiments and choosing one to carry out in class, she said.
“It is such a joy to see students so involved in learning and enjoying it so much,” she said. “It’s exciting and students are really enjoying this.”
“Now that every student has a laptop or iPad, we are not limited to one or two computer labs for students to use,” said Dr. Phil Burchfield, superintendent. “Teachers are using the new technology to open worlds of learning for these students that we didn’t have access to before.”