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franklin county times
PHOTO BY LAUREN WESTER Abraham Sagastume, Caleigh Lawson and Joshua Bahena participate in Brittany Pannell's third grade digital learning center at Tharptown Elementary School.

Digital technology improves classrooms

In recent years technology has developed by leaps and bounds and helped improve the lives of many. Helping people and improving lives is exactly what Jessica Hamilton is striving to do in Franklin County.

Before accepting her current position, where she provides instructional technology and teacher support for Franklin County, Hamilton was a school teacher for 15 years, 12 of which she spent at Vina High School. She said her years spent as a teacher helped inspire her current role.

Hamilton’s main goal is to increase the use of digital technology in the classroom.

“I know how time consuming being a teacher is. I want to help them increase digital literacy because I know from personal experience how beneficial it can be,” Hamilton explained.

She incorporated more digital technology into her classroom during her last few years teaching and learned that going entirely paperless isn’t the way to go.

“You lose the connection with your students when you do that. There’s a balance between digital and traditional that needs to be employed,” she said.

Currently, Hamilton is working on writing grants that would provide Chromebooks for classrooms in the county that are in need. She said most of the schools in the area don’t have nearly as many mobile devices as they need to sufficiently incorporate them into their learning.

One example of how teachers can incorporate more technology is through literacy centers in their classrooms. Hamilton has been working on this with Brittany Pannell and her third-grade class at Tharptown Elementary School. One part of Pannell’s literacy center was word sorting with individual notecards that the students had to match up with the correct suffixes. Hamilton took those words and suffixes and put them on a digital platform, and the children sorted the words by dragging the boxes across the screen to the correct suffixes.

The students enjoyed the change in routine, Hamilton said, and now Pannell can keep that saved on her Google Drive for as long as she needs it and change up the words if she so chooses.

Google G Suites is what teachers and faculty are using county-wide, according to Hamilton, and incorporating online learning for the classroom through that platform will be easy once they learn how, she said. Educating teachers how to do that and how to most efficiently use Google G Suites is a top priority for Hamilton.

“I want them to work smarter, not harder,” she said.

She is also working on getting approval for students to have access to their own Google accounts so they can more easily access things like study materials and quizzes outside of the classroom and have a direct line of communication with their teacher if they are having trouble.

Also in the works are community education classes on technology, open to the public. Hamilton said she will be teaching those as well. There is no definite start date yet, but they will be held at the Franklin County Community Education Office.

Hamilton has created a website full of resources and videos that teach how to efficiently use Google G Suites and how to incorporate digital technology in the classroom.

To learn more about her efforts, visit fcinstructionaltech.weebly.com.

 

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