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News from the Foundation

Posted: May 5, 2015

Teacher Values Technology as Powerful Learning Tool

Randy Martin, eighth grade social studies teacher at Desert Ridge Mid School, is this month's TIG/APS Education Foundation Innovation Award winner.

Randy Martin incorporates technology into every lesson he teaches at Desert Ridge Middle School. The eighth grade social studies teacher values technology not only for the content it can provide, but for the amount of differential strategies, projects, perspectives and student motivation in can provide.

"I have found that social studies textbooks are often filled with slanted biases and limited information. The students are also often bored with them, translating into an increase of bad behaviors when the students have to rely on them for the content. When I use technology to help provide the content, whether from my own iterative whiteboard or from other devices, student interest, motivation, and creativity blossoms," said Martin, this month's TIG/APS Education Foundation Innovation Award winner.

"Fighting the use of technology in the classroom, including the personal devices of our students, is a losing battle," he added. "I can either get on board and make the absolute best of it, or stifle my classes by cutting them off from the power of the technology they have available to them."

Martin's use of technology in the classroom is extensive. For example, he built a 12-feet by 8-feet interactive whiteboard into one of the walls of his classroom (this is about four times larger than a Promethean board) that he can manipulate from anywhere in the room with his phone, tablet or PC. Students also can access the board via apps like Splashtop and interact wirelessly from their own desks or work spaces. They can post questions, collaborate on projects, and interact with any of the content of the board on their own devices.

Martin also promotes the use of the Google Apps among his students, allowing them to save files and digitally collaborate with each other through cloud computing. "This also allows us to work towards having a paperless classroom, and prevents the misplacement of assignments that might otherwise get lost in the 'black hole' of a student’s backpack," he said.

He also uses the Promethean board in the back of his room to post and interact with additional information related to the content including photos, videos, essential questions and discussion boards.

"This way, no matter where my students look in my room, they are greeted with interactive content materials though technology."

Technology Integration Group and the APS Education Foundation sponsor the Innovation Awards which honor a district teacher who is advancing education through the use of technology. A monthly $1,600 prize was awarded in 2014-15.

Martin said he plan to use the money to purchase a small class set of tablet PCs or notebooks for students to use, ultimately providing a 1:1 ratio of technology. "This will open up many more opportunities for digital learning and research, online collaboration, deeper discussions about media literacy and the biases of certain websites, textbooks, and news organizations, deepen our understanding of current events, enhance geography skills with apps like Google Earth, and increase student interest and motivation by using a format that is comfortable and fun for them," he said. "Ultimately, we might even be able to become a truly paperless classroom, helping save the environment (and save the school some money as well)!"

Filed under: employees, innovation