Hickory Creek Middle School students use computer tablets in classes
Hickory Creek Middle School sixth through eighth grade students are making good use of twenty-one computer tablets that were provided to the school last year through a grant by the District 157-C Education Foundation. The sleek, ultra-mobile computers were implemented through a pilot program last year in the classes by teachers Cheryl Donovan, Katie Ellinghaus, Katie Duff, Tyler Hammond and Tricia Dotson. The tablets are now used for both formal and teachable lessons and many students also use their own tablets and iPads at home.
Seventh grade teacher Cheryl Donovan said that the tablets have been utilized throughout the core areas of English language arts, social studies, math and advisory. This includes being used for disability research, acquiring research skills through Wordbook online, planning meal budgets in math, alternate novel study blogging, creating movies for visitors to the school, comparing and contrasting the Disney story of Pocahontas to the real story, math enrichment games and general resource through students looking up material themselves in online dictionaries and other search sources.
A recent social studies project had students use the tablets to look up information about Quaker beliefs and practice. Donovan provided the students with search strategies, advising them, “The less words you use in your search the better.” Students worked quietly together in pairs sharing a tablet and taking turns looking up information that would be used in their reports. Seventh grader Kaylee Howell, who also has an iPod Touch tablet at home, said that she likes using the tablets better than reading the same information in a book.
A contingent of Hickory Creek staff members traveled to the Association of Illinois Middle Schools (AIMS) conference in Washington, DC last June for Hickory Creek’s re-designation as an Illinois Horizon School. While at the conference, the group of Jason Smit, Kevin Suchinski, April Mahy, Cheryl Donovan and Tricia Dotson presented at a breakout session. Their presentation was titled “The Places We Will Go…Oh My…Utilizing Technology and Teacher Collaboration to Facilitate the Transition to Common Core.” Also highlighted in the presentation were anonymous student quotes on how much they liked to blog using the tablets in class. One student quote read, “I loved the blogging. I felt like I communicated better with my fellow students. Plus the tablets are so cool! I think you should do this next year so that kids can have the same experience I did!”
Donovan has applied for another Education Foundation grant requesting additional PC tablets this year. She is anxiously waiting to find out whether the Foundation Board will approve her grant. Dr. Kevin Suchinski, Principal, stated, ““Incorporating technology for this generation of students is essential as they are in the midst of a digital wave. Digital technologies are completely normal for them and part of their everyday life. Integrating technology into the classroom will help students create and learn new things and communicate in new ways with people.”