In Lenoir County Public Schools, it could be called Digital Learning Daily, but the national day of app-rich activity designated as Digital Learning Day gave teachers and students throughout LCPS a chance to showcase the creative ways they use the digital tools that have become commonplace in their classrooms.
“I saw excellent examples of learning in our schools,” Melissa Lynch, the district’s digital learning instructional specialist, said of Digital Learning Day on Thursday. “School social media feeds were flooded with examples of student work, work by students who are engaged in activities that allowed choice and creativity in showing their mastery of standards.”
At E.B. Frink Middle School, sixth-grade students worked out math problems on their iPads, a device that’s been instrumental in helping teachers individualize instruction and allowing students to learn at their own pace and in ways that best suit their learning styles. Frink seventh graders studied for a social studies test by working in teams with the app Quizlett, which lets them quiz each other, quiz themselves, practice flashcards and play memory games.
Second graders at Banks Elementary School listened to Dr. Seuss books on their iPads, accessing the books through QR codes and using pencil and paper to write about the beginning, middle and end of the stories. Third graders used Keynote videos and the Instant Alpha app to create images that drove home their lessons about the solar system.
When LCPS embarked on its digital learning initiative more than four years ago, providing iPads for all K-12 students and iPads and MacBooks to all teachers and administrators, it made clear to its educators that the devices were tools, not teachers.
“When we look at digital learning, I think it’s a misconception that it’s only about incorporating the technology,” Catherine Lynch, digital learning specialist at Moss Hill Elementary School, said. “We do want teachers and students to incorporate the technology, but what’s important is the learning that’s going on in the classroom.”
Digital Learning Day in LCPS was an invitation for teachers to expand learning options for their students, she said.
“It’s the creation piece that we’re after, not just getting on an app and just using a program,” she said. “We’re using this tool to bring in their learning.”
On a typical day, Moss Hill second-grader teacher Joey Gray blends the traditional pencil-and-paper approach to teaching with whole group, small group and individual instruction built around the iPads. But she’s always teaching.
“Every app they use in group work I’ve taught them how to use it,” she said. “They’re not just playing on the iPad. They’re using it for their learning. We will use it in whole group sometimes and we are working together through each step.”
The class’ Digital Learning Day project was an iMovie that showed how her students used digital devices in their lessons, “a commercial for digital learning,” said Gray, a North Lenoir High graduate in her third year as a teacher.
“We added different videos and screen shots of things we’ve done the past few weeks,” she said. “I took the videos and the students did what they normally do.”