Mimio Global Press

Hempfield students drive learning with new interactive technology

Pittsburgh Live

Pittsburgh, PA – March 2, 2012 -- With the press of a button, Kristy Pollak, a third-grade teacher in Stanwood Elementary School, immediately knows whether her students grasp the lesson she has just taught.

Her students are using hand-held devices that allow them to select answers to questions, giving Pollak instant feedback.

The technology is part of an instructional program that's been implemented throughout the elementary schools in Hempfield Area School District.

"It's really teaching for the 21st century," Pollak said.

Mimio Interactive Teaching Technologies is allowing students to drive education, teachers say.

"It's just revolutionized what's going on in those rooms," said Dr. Barbara Marin, assistant superintendent for elementary education.

Mimio technology has transformed an ordinary whiteboard into an interactive screen that can display images from a computer or projector, enabling the teacher to present interactive lessons.

Students are more comfortable with the technology than teachers, Marin said.

"Our children are not the same children we had 20 years ago," she said.

Mimio transforms the traditional classroom into a room filled with motion. A teacher can stand anywhere in the room while she writes on an electronic tablet, allowing her words to appear on the screen. A special pen allows students to capture their notes or solutions to problems.

Students take turns in front of the classroom working on problems in math and language arts.

"This makes learning all come to life," Marin continued. "For children, this comes naturally."

Audrey Dell, the principal of West Point Elementary, regularly observes teachers at work using the technology.

"Through every observation, I see that teachers have learned something new and are trying it," she said. "The attention and engagement would convince anybody this is a much better way to learn. The amount of collaboration among teachers has never been so great in incorporating the technology into the instruction."

Changing times

Fifth-grade teacher Beth Biondi revamped her teaching methods.

"Being a veteran teacher, I did not begin my teaching career with all of the technology that is now part of education," the Maxwell Elementary teacher said. "It can be intimidating to restructure your method of teaching in order to incorporate a style, which can be very unfamiliar, especially in front of a classroom full of students."

Biondi said the technology motivates her students and encourages them to participate. With the click of a mouse, she can determine whether her students understood the lesson.

"It brings to life information in a matter of seconds," she added. "I feel that this implementation has revolutionized my classroom and me, as a teacher."

The introduction of new technology pits active learning against interactive learning.

In elementary school, traditionally, students sit around tables and work on group activities. That's active learning. But as students progress into higher grades, active learning stops.

A study by the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard reports that interactive teaching techniques can generate a threefold increase in a student's knowledge.

Another study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, "Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology," found that online learning can be isolating for a student because there is less chance for a student to participate in a classroom environment.

There is a danger that the novelty of the technology will wear off and students will become bored, Marin said.

"Mimio is great, but you can't use it in every part of the curriculum. Children need a balance. It's like everything else. There has to be a balance. There are a lot of different ways of delving into information," she said.


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