TROY — Hook Elementary third grade teacher Nathan Hoffman is not too different from most 21st century teachers. He oftentimes utilizes technology such as laptops and an iPad in his classroom to help his students be engaged learners.
He’s part of the technology committee for the district, which explores the issues within the building and acts as a mediator between buildings, as well as helping teachers get comfortable using technology.
“It’s always been a passion,” he said. “I actually don’t have a technology background, but it’s just something that clicks for me. I like to share that enthusiasm the more I learn how technology can be used in the classroom.”
He and co-worker Karen Warnecke have started a technology club at Hook for students between third and fifth grades with the aim of getting a variety of technological devices and using those for collaboration, communication and creative purposes.
“I wanted to find an opportunity to get students to use the technology that we currently have and also try to find different ways to use that technology for different, more creative and collaborative-type projects,” he said. “I think a lot of times we are tied with trying to get things in throughout the day. We don’t have a lot of time for the real extensive projects and also just getting students comfortable with 21st century terminology.”
He and Warnecke sent out an invitation to students who were interested and wanted to learn a little more about technology. The first meeting was on Nov. 4. While there, Hoffman said the students began brainstorming projects and things they would like to do throughout the year.
“We’re interested in blogging,” he said. “I signed up for the students to practice their written communication skills through a website called KidsBlog.org. They’ll be reflecting on the things we did in class and the variety of written communication skills like typing.”
The blogs will also serve as digital portfolios to show parents their students’ work.
Hoffman said coding was another big movement that he wanted to help the kids get comfortable with.
“In December, there’s a nationwide hour of coding week,” he said. “There’s a lot of kid-friendly apps and websites out there that help teach kids how to make computers operate, and that’s definitely a skill a lot of kids will need in the future.”
The club is currently open to third through fifth graders. Hoffman said this year is a trial that he was confident the kids would enjoy as they became more engaged in the technology.
“That’s the thing people need to see, the potential of how to use the devices more than just for testing,” he said. “How can you use that for higher-level thinking skills to create, design, construct? So I wanted to create an opportunity to branch out and try these things.”
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Troydailynews.