Caption: Meet Krista King and Joe Archer. In a four-part weekly series to celebrate Ed Tech, Grand Erie is featuring dynamic Digital Lead Learners to share their stories and to see the impact on student learning.
Visitors to Hagersville Elementary School might be forgiven if, at times, it’s not clear who’s doing the teaching and who’s doing the learning. Because, under the umbrella of the Grand Erie District School Board’s Ed Tech initiative, it often works both ways, with teachers and students engaged in an intellectually collaborative environment and figuring things out together.
Joe Archer, a grade 3 teacher at Hagersville Elementary, is Digital Lead Learner for the Grand Erie District School Board. So he’s played a key role in developing home-grown tech talent at the school through Ed Tech Student Crew, where students who demonstrate an aptitude and interest in technology are trained to support teachers using educational technology tools in the classroom to support learning.
While Archer and a few other teachers have earned credentials such as Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Microsoft Certified Educator, students such as Caitlin West and Jayden Lammel, both in Grade 8, are children of a digital age and often have the upper hand.
- YouTube Video: Click here to watch student share their learning with the support from Krista King and Joe Archer and the Educational Technology Initiative
“It’s good to be able to correct them on some things,” Jayden says. He’s half-kidding yet obviously glowing months after a teacher asked him for help with a piece of hardware and he noticed it wasn’t plugged in.
“These kids got pulled out last year for two days of training at the board office,” Archer explains. “It could be connecting to projectors, SMART Boards and such — little things teachers have trouble with in the classroom. We’re able to send these students into classrooms to walk the teachers through it.”
While helping teachers is a great confidence booster, a key goal is also to help students enhance their aptitude with technology. Jayden says he’s learned computer applications such as Sway and OneNote, Microsoft offerings he’s used to write papers and design web sites to support projects he’s working on.
Caitlin says the same programs have given her new vehicles for expression. “They’re easy to use,” she says, nodding modestly when Archer mentioned she was the school’s top Ed Tech Student Crew badge earner last year.
“I wanted to learn more about the programs,” she explains, acknowledging the opportunities these give her to create elaborate multimedia presentations about math and ringette, subjects dear to her heart.
Archer says he appreciates the collaborative learning environment. “We’re teaching them as teachers but we’re also picking up a lot from them too.”
Krista King, a kindergarten teacher at the school, has been participating in Ed Tech for four years, using it mainly to document in a multimedia format the accomplishments of her pupils.
“We use photos, voice recordings and videos of students demonstrating their learning so we can show parents exactly what their son or daughter is doing,” King says. “This allows us to expand the class into the home environment where parents can collaboratively support the learning — say with patterning, by making towers using blocks at home with their kids.”
King has also taken on a lead role within the board, helping run after-school workshops and facilitate live interactive webinars for teacher professional development.
“My dad was a computer tech, so I had a computer at a very young age,” King says. “I learned early on from him that you can move things around and even lose files but you can’t actually break anything.”
As a teacher, she passes this life lesson along to fellow teachers — that, instead of worrying about something going wrong, trial and error are key to learning.
Principal Janice Hughes says the collaborative efforts have proven inspirational. “A lot of educators are intimidated by the fast-growing technology,” Hughes says. “We really are 21st Century learners, and a huge part of our curriculum is going in that way. This just opens up an opportunity for worldly learning.”