Teachers get creative with technology in the classroom

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by OWEN LEI / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on July 28, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 30 at 2:16 PM

REDMOND, Wash. -- Can Twitter improve grades? Can Powerpoint reduce bullying?

Those are answers teachers from Washington -- and all over the country  -- are gathering to answer on the Microsoft campus this week.

From QR codes to Skype to Twitter, the 7th annual Innovative Education Forum showcases creative ways to teach with tech, sometimes with surprisingly effective results.

In what looked like a science fair for educators, nearly 80 projects were on display for teachers and judges alike Thursday.

But on this day, students were the "science experiments" and educators were the presenters.

"I built a culture of students talking about my class outside of my class," said Corey Bess, who teaches 8th graders in Carlsbad, Calif.

Bess's project, called "Teacher Tweets Improve Student Performance," was an 8-week study where Bess used Twitter to post homework reminders and pose science questions to a group of 43 students.

Bess said while their average GPA started slighlty less than a similar "Twitter-less" control group, their test scores increased double digits over the others during the trial period.

"They were talking about science outside of my science class," Bess said.

The premise behind the forum is that new technology needs to be less of an afterthought in the nation's classrooms. For example, Washington state has a set of technolody standards already created for K-12 classrooms, but still consider those standards optional at this point.

The exhibits also included several presentations from Washington schools, including one from the only student you'd find at the conference.

"There's so many amazing ideas," said Tono Sablan, a sophomore at Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma.

After about 50 fights broke out in just two months at his school last school year, most involving freshmen, Tono launched a digital anti-bullying campaign, called Project: Unite.

Based on the sign language symbol for "I love you," It actually helped reduce fighting and restored the freshman class reputation, Tono said. "It's boosted up school morale 1000 percent."

Judges announce the top ten projects Friday night. The winners get to take their presentations to the world education forum later this year in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, KING 5 has been asking readers on Twitter to write about creative and inspiring teachers in 140 characters or less.


 

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