By Collin Brooks
Technology is changing the classroom, but Fairmont 4th grade teacher Rob Martindale and other teachers at the school are working on an initiative that would have been hard to believe a few years ago.
They hope to make classrooms paperless.
Since Christmas, each student in Martindale’s class has had an iPad that they use to complete their daily work.
“The kids seem to be more excited about doing assignments on iPads rather then on paper,” Martindale said.
But there is also excitement from the teachers. By using apps on his iPad, Martindale now only has to take home his tablet, instead of a large bag of paper and books to grade papers. Best of all, as soon as he is done grading it, parents are able to access the work through their smart device.
“The second the work is done, it is available to the students and the parents almost instantaneously,” Martindale said.
It also provides them with instant feedback, as Martindale is able to grade the paper right away. That grade and assignment not only goes to the student, but also the parent.
Right now, Martindale uses apps called Showbie and Seesaw to make the digital footprint in his classroom larger. In Showbie, he is able to assign, collect and review student work.
The program also gives you the ability to write comments or record audio notes for the student to review. The teacher can also use those same tools to give feedback to students. In order to log most of the students work, he uses an app called Seesaw, which allows teachers, students and parents to keep a digital journal of all of the students work.
That has spawned a new term in the class, “blog worthy”, which means Martindale will post a student’s assignment to his classroom’s website, if they are deserving.
“That’s the big thing, if your assignment is blog worthy, then you’ve done a really good job,” Martindale said.
Kenadie Hendrix is one of the 4th graders in Martindale’s class, she said that she enjoys the technology that is being introduced into the classroom. One of her favorite apps is called Kahoots!, which is a trivia style game.
“It’s fun, because it’s competitive and you have to think quickly,” Hendrix said.
Math teacher Elizabeth Majors uses Kahoots! in order for her students to warm up before they start class work. In her class, students use Dell laptops, but they keep a pencil and scrap piece of paper close.
Fairmont 2nd grade teacher Brad McDannald also uses technology in his classroom. He said that he uses it in order to enhance the learning experience.
“Slowly every year, we take more of the paper learning — the worksheets and stuff — and we work to make it more interactive and more collaborative by enhancing it with technology,” McDannald said.
One app that he uses is Padlet, which helps student keep up with the reading lessons in the classroom. But it also allows students that may have been absent to check and see what they missed.
And while the mission of a paperless classroom hasn’t quite been succeeded, McDannald said he could envision a classroom with less paper in the near future.
But with the latest state assignments moving from computer to paper, Martindale said that his students still take plenty of time to perfect their handwriting.
“Every Thursday they write in their classroom and then they type them into their tablet, so that I can grade it,” Martindale said. “They have to have the stamina to be able to write.”