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Posted January 31, 2013

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McKinley Teacher Sees Lots of Good Reasons to Use Technology Daily in the Classroom

Eighth grade science teacher Krystal Irby is this month's TIG/APS Education Foundation Innovation Award winner.

There are plenty of reasons why Krystal Irby uses technology on a daily basis to teach eighth graders at McKinley Middle School. Among them: Students are already tuned-in to technology, it's what they need to know to succeed in the future, and it's an easy way to get their attention.

"Our students need to be using technology in as many real-world capacities as we can provide," said Irby, this month's TIG/APS Education Foundation Innovation Award winner. "Almost any job out there today involves the use of technology, especially to communicate and for job training that more than likely will be administered online."

As this month's Innovation Award winner, Irby gets $2,500 to spend on a variety of ActivClassroom interactive tools or training to assist in the use of Promethean Boards for education. She also received a check for $100.

Technology Integration Group has partnered with the Foundation to create the Innovation Award that is presented monthly during the school year to a district teacher who is advancing education in the classroom through the use of technology, including Promethean Boards.

Irby, who is in her fourth year of teaching, said she uses the Promethean board with ActivExpression voting devices as well as a mobile lab of iPads.

"I build interactive lessons that get students up and working with the Promethean board, and I utilize the AcitvExpression voting devices because they increase student engagement and give every student a voice," she said.

Irby also sets up technology stations that students rotate through. For example, she'll have student groups go to stations that include a virtual lab on the Promethean board; web-based research on desktop computers; and interactive science apps on the iPads.

Irby has been a trainer with TIG for the ActivInspire/Promethean software for over a year. She also trains with the ActivExpression voting devices and has participated in a study by Marzano to collect data about increasing student learning through the use of voting devices.

With the award money, Irby hopes to get a document camera to go with the Promethean board, green screen filming equipment, a printer and some iPad minis.

"I want to get hardware that will help my students use technology to produce and exhibit their work," she said. "Our students need to have access to technology to learn from, but also learn by doing. I want them creating projects, processing information in some way digitally, collaborating, and then communicating their results in a digital medium. This kind of work and experience, I hope, will help prepare them for their future careers."

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