DECEMBER 2014 – Instead of receiving instruction from adults, Withrow juniors and seniors drove the learning process as they demonstrated an array of cutting-edge software and other technology innovations to their teachers and parents. A heightened emphasis on educational technology is part of Cincinnati Public Schools’ new My Tomorrow initiative.
The verdict from the adults-turned-pupils?
“It was excellent,” said veteran Withrow long-term substitute teacher William Solomon, who learned from junior Elijah Miller how he could easily use the program Quizlet to efficiently create quizzes for his students.
Agreed Withrow legal writing teacher Charles Cole: “Teachers are never too old to learn about new technology and how it can be applied in the classroom. This was a great opportunity for the students to showcase their expertise in the latest technology. I was particularly impressed with their presentation of Google Apps for educators and will incorporate some of the information in my teaching.”
Parents also came away wowed.
“I was impressed at her knowledge and how engaged she is,” said Charlene Taylor after hearing her daughter, Jonise Triggs, explain Padlet, educational software through which teachers and students can create web pages or “walls” to manage tasks, take notes, create and post videos, and work collaboratively.
Withrow psychology teacher Kraig Hoover and senior Demetrius Isome explained how technology is transforming learning for teacher and student alike. “In 20 years of teaching I’ve never experienced anything that has improved the quantity and efficiency of the instruction I’m able to deliver as much as this has,” said Hoover, “What used to take me four days I can now accomplish in two. I’m working smarter, not harder.”
Hoover created a blog as one means of leveraging technology to cover more material quickly in a compelling and seamless manner – for example, linking from pioneering journalist Nellie Bly’s 100-year-old original text, “Ten Days in a Madhouse,” to a clinical study on mental illness written a few months ago.
Demetrius believes that technology has dramatically improved learning since his freshman year, when he remembers getting stacks of printed material in his classes.
“This is way easier. It’s faster and smoother. It’s learning in a better way … as a student, it brings you into it. You become curious about things.”
Withrow teacher Craig Rush, a demonstration coach for My Tomorrow, credited teaching colleagues Hoover and Lauren Lillenstein for helping to organize the event, which attracted 110 visitors, including 60 Withrow staff members, and will be repeated at least quarterly.
“The technology Drop-In Day was awesome,” Rush said. “It was great to see the kids showcase their talents with the teachers. The kids loved the opportunity to teach, and the teachers appreciated the assistance the kids gave them….Teachers, community members and parents were impressed by the professionalism and expertise of our students.”