Johnson City students weave technology into learning activities

A pair of second-grade students at Woodland Elementary School work on their scripts for a Digital Learning Day project. Photo by Dave Ongie

By Dave Ongie, Managing Editor

When the concept of a Digital Learning Day started, the idea of integrating technology into school activities was novel.

Technology in the classroom was relatively new for students of all ages. But after the COVID-19 pandemic made technology a necessity instead of a supplemental classroom tool, finding ways to make Digital Learning Day impactful requires a great deal of creativity for teachers at all grade levels. That was the challenge last Thursday as Johnson City Schools observed Digital Learning Day with a variety of activities.

“I can think back to when I started, and the resources we had are very limited compared to what they are today,” said Jordan Dyson, a teacher at Woodland who also serves as the Chair of the technology committee. “I also had the opportunity to teach remote learning for the whole year, and that changed the way I think about instructional tech. Returning to in-person, it really helped me be more selective with the tools I use and it helped me find a really good balance for the classroom.”

Hannah Barnett, a tech leader within Johnson City Schools and a second-grade teacher at Woodland Elementary, said her approach is to use Digital Learning Day to introduce students to new technology.

“It’s just kind of introducing them to what they haven’t had experience with yet instead of just saying we’re going to be doing digital resources all day, because we do that all day,” Barnett said. In her classroom, for example, she had her students use Epic – an ebook library – to research cultures around the world, and the project will be put on an online slide show called Google Slides. The integration of unfamiliar tech on Digital Learning Day helped her students expand their horizons.

Digital Learning Day is a national initiative, and this year’s theme was Every Student Everywhere. Each school in Johnson City was tasked with choosing a theme that fit under that umbrella. At Woodland, Worldwide Wonders was chosen, continuing a yearlong theme of “Woodland Wonders” that stemmed from a book the whole school read earlier this year.

“We focused on introducing the students to the idea of a global community, and we’re a special part within that,” Barnett said. “We want students to realize all the cultures that are here are worth celebrating, but we’re also worth celebrating.”


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