"Who here has been to the country of Vietnam?" a second-grade teacher asks his students. As the children glance at each other nervously, not one hand raises.

"Well, it looks like we should take a field trip there today. Sit back, relax, and buckle up. Here we go!" the teacher announces as he turns on the classroom's LCD projector and flashes the images from his computer of Google Earth onto the whiteboard. The students sit breathless as they watch themselves hover above the earth and travel down to Hanoi, Vietnam. Thanks to technology, this trip is made possible.

Technology in the classroom has significantly advanced in recent years. According to Nancy Dudenhoefer, public information officer for the Kyrene School District, the computer to student ratio is an astonishing one computer for every 1.8 students. Besides the obvious word processing benefits, such an accessible amount of computers has changed how classrooms function. They allow students to research on the Internet for reports, receive spelling help and use programs to study before a test. Many teachers even allocate computer time during reading and/or math centers for students to practice concepts individually.

Besides computers, classrooms now come equipped with LCD projectors. This technology permits teachers to project images, videos or websites directly from their computers onto a screen. Also, teacher created documents can be easily displayed and classrooms have real-time access to events, movies or games on the Internet.

Say goodbye to overhead projectors and messy erasable pens! Document cameras are used to project any papers, books or examples of student work directly to the whiteboard. Now students and teachers are able to demonstrate examples on worksheets or present projects to the class without the use of transparencies.

Technology also affects families at home. Newsletters are often posted online or sent via e-mail attachments to parents, rather than sent home as paper copies. Classroom assignments and upcoming school events are found online and parent communication is often through e-mail instead of notes home.

Most reading, math, science and social studies programs used at school can also be found online. If your student attends a school in the Kyrene School District, many of these resources can be found at www.kyrene.org/technology, along with other information about how technology is utilized in the classroom. Or, type specific lessons into a Google search and check out some of the wonderful, and often free, programs that you discover.

With advancing technology providing so many interactive websites, games and videos, students are excited for such an engaging way to learn - or travel.

Erinn Walker has been an Ahwatukee Foothills resident since 1994. She currently teaches fourth grade in Chandler and lives in the Foothills with her husband and two dogs. Contact her at walker.erinn@chandler.k12.az.us.

 

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