Teachers Teach Teachers at Unique Summer Camp


Teachers in Grand Island head off to summer camp. Their camp counselors? Fellow teachers, as they talk tech.

Half of Grand Island kids are on computers every day, and another 25 percent most every day. Those numbers will rise this fall,with laptops for middle school kids.

Collaborating with students across the world, or a teacher across town, educators embrace technology that's already a part of the world kids live in.

Walnut Middle School teacher Benjamin Marten said, "Even in the five years I've been teaching I can see a big difference in the students I first taught to now. It's almost a different world."

Grand Island uses iPads in the high school, and laptops in elementary school. This fall, middle school students will say goodbye to textbooks for social studies.

Josh McDowell said, "That will be the first middle school curricular area to go all digital, so every middle school student will receive a PC laptop at the start of next school year."

So it's off to summer camp for nearly 200 teachers.

"What's awesome about it, they don't have to be here, they're not being paid. They're here for the joy of learning, to learn how to use tools and tech better that we have in place in the district now," McDowell said.

McDowell is head of what the school district calls 21st Century Teaching and Learning. He coordinated this tech camp.

Teachers say online tools allow them to easily share projects.

Chandra Myers of Gates Elementary said, "Our team works together a lot to create new presentations, and it's easy to share those options."

As teachers sneak a peak at their smartphones, they acknowledge technology can be a distraction.

"And not all of that is bad, get them to explore," Benjamin Marten said. "I think a lot of them get the hands-on feeling, being able to touch the computer, go to the website themselves, instead of looking on it."

Technology can also be an extension of the classroom.

McDowell said, "Some of those lecture components can happen at home for kids, and when they get into the classroom the teacher really hones in on the skills and content that each individual student needs, and technology allows that to happen."