Let’s Get Techy!

Mimi Nguyen and Jessica Grozav

 

“Please get your chromebooks and go into Google Classroom,” Mrs.Baldwin says as students walk in through the door. It is almost time for third period, after early lunch at River City High School. Students take their designated devices with their separate numbers and began to find their places in the classroom. As the bell rang, soft voices echo through the room with students conversing with each other. Melissa Baldwin, who is the teacher for this tenth grade english class, calls out names over the voices to take attendance, sitting at her desk in the front of the room.

After that was done, she got out of her seat and went up to the board, where a page was put on from the projector. “Today you are going to each of the four website links and choose which one you want to use to make your Macbeth comic book,” she announced as students stopped their conversations.

“Just go around and look through the different tools they all have to see which one is best for you.”

Walking around the students’ desks, making sure they were on task, Baldwin added, “If you have any questions let me know and I will come over to help you.”

A couple minutes later, several hands raise to request assistance about the assignment or laptop concerns they may have had. Answering any interrogations as Mrs.Baldwin went to every individual to guide them in the right direction for the next project they would be working on.

While trying out the variations of digital art websites, students laughed and chattered, sharing their own creations or events that may have happened that day.

Leading up to this day, her background has become a part of who she is now.

As a woman from Shingle Springs Cameron Park area, Melissa Baldwin is now currently in her 30’s. She’s been married for twelve years and has two young boys. Her hobbies include running and cooking.

“I like doing crafty stuff if I have time, but usually I don’t ‘cause I have two small kids,” she added.

She is one of the advisors for the Garden Club, as well as the Fashion Club.

Being an educator and leader, Baldwin was able to share her way of thinking with others in the education department.

Mrs.Baldwin is a teacher who uses her love for technology in the classroom where students of all grades can enjoy and adapt to their personal preferred twenty-first century skills.

Baldwin has been teaching for seven years, spending two of those at Southport Elementary School and the rest here at River City High School.

Although being an English teacher, English is not specifically her favorite subject. Liking the idea of looking at things and analyzing, Baldwin said, “My background is in American Studies, which is where you look at pop culture or history of America, like in a certain time period, and then you look at it through ideas of gender, race, class and ethnicity. I try to use some of that stuff when we’re working in my English classes, so I would say American Studies is my favorite subject, and then English just supports that.”

Other than the fact that there is much more than just six or seven core classes, current time has changed with the increase of technology in school.

Over the years, technology has influenced and affected everyone in the education system. With the use of electronic devices and internet everyday, students and teachers are using their technical skills in their classes, making it fairly easier for them to learn and complete assignments.

According to teachhub.com, a study by the IT Trade Association states that 75 percent of educators think technology has a positive impact on education. It is believed that technology is getting more predominant in school. Having electronic devices in the learning environment enables students to learn at their own pace.

Since new inventions have been created, life as a whole has been easier for this generation. When not in school almost everything people do is connected in some way to technology.

The website educatorstechnology.com says that 50 percent of students ages 10 to 18 use the internet for their homework at least once a week. In terms of studying and reviewing outside of school, it has been found that students who study on their phones and mobile devices study forty minutes more than those who do not use electronic devices.

As a whole, many people believe that having technology is a benefit. In particular, Mrs. Baldwin has had great experience with electronics in her own classroom.

Over the years of teaching and being a part of the education department, Mrs. Baldwin has developed a strong passion in technology and making it a part of her classes.

“I love technology. I really like technology in the classroom because I feel like it gives us a lot more options, and it also allows for more creativity,” Baldwin claimed.

Using the computer skills she has, Mrs.Baldwin tries to use technology in her classes as much as possible.

“I’m one of the Innovative Educator teachers, so I’m in the program that has Chromebooks. I absolutely love using technology in the classrooms. If I can use technology in a lesson plan, I will.”

There’s always two sides of a class in school, which are the student’s point of view and the teacher or instructors.

Faith Bosley and Mickaela Sprink are two students who are in Mrs.Baldwin’s college prep class.

Bosley said, “My first impression of Mrs.Baldwin was that I knew she was going to be a nice lady. She’s not really strict and doesn’t usually yell.”

Both Bosley and Sprink have agreed that their class is mostly computer based, and many projects are assigned.

“She talks about loving electronics and her kids,” Sprink added.The laptops are used often and learning is mostly from the projector.

Using the Chromebooks often makes it difficult to be able to have them all the time, so a new idea that has been developed is the One to One Roll Out.
The idea of a 1:1 ratio of every one student with one computer started a few years ago.

 

“The idea is that we need to make our students tech-savvy and competitive in the ever-changing world of technology and also the global community. So the Innovative Educator program started because of the One to One Roll Out, so there’s more and more teachers on campus that have Chromebooks or some sort of device in their room. That program is going to continue to expand as we continue to shift and move to textbook adoptions like in English,” Baldwin explained.

Even though the whole program seems like it will be a great addition, there are still some parts that may lead to struggles.

A negative effect of having laptops and devices to use during class is the distraction that comes with the students going online. Being able to use the internet also gives students the ability to go on apps and websites that they are not supposed to, such as games and listening to music.

Another disadvantage is when the internet is down, or the bandwidth is slow, which prevents students and teachers to go on their devices and move on with the class.

As the topic of technology in classrooms is spoken about, another important topic is the significance of holding on to textbooks and paperwork.

Teachhub.com states that, “Technological skills are taught to students so they are

prepared to enter the workforce,” which demonstrates how the world is changing and adapting to new inventions. Although the use of technology seems to be much better, traditional learning processes are still significant.

“Technology I think has been a big piece of the shift in education,” Baldwin said. “I really don’t see that as a society or culture, ever moving away from paper and having something physical in your hands. I found that having the paper copies or textbooks has been extremely helpful to help support ideas on the computer and vice versa.”

Some believe that tests done with paper and pencil have a better percent of passing than tests done online. Writing physically instead of typing and staring at a screen might be more effective to keep students focused. Still, everything done on the computers is efficient and organized.

Like students helping students with homework and projects, teachers do the same by sharing their lesson plans.

As a part of being one of the Innovative Educator teachers, Mrs.Baldwin shares her lessons that she creates so they could take some pieces and work them into their own.

“Other teachers will use lessons that I’ll create, or they’ll take a lesson that I’ve created and then change it to fit their needs. Just the idea of teachers using or coming up with different ideas, based on what I’m doing, that’s the one thing that’s really neat about technology. There’s so many ideas out there that you can morph them into something that fits for your classroom and a lot of teachers do that,” Mrs.Baldwin shared.

“I also help whenever I can, so if someone’s struggling with a particular lesson or they’re struggling with thinking of how to incorporate technology in their classroom, I’m always more than happy to help,” she continued.

That is just one piece of what Baldwin does as a teacher, not including all of the other tasks she completes daily.

Life as a teacher has both its benefits and downfalls. The way students act makes a large impact on the way teachers choose to deal with it.

Baldwin said, “I don’t think there’s really anything I despise about teaching. I think that it can just be difficult when I’m putting forth 100% and other people don’t wanna do that. But that’s part of my job, to convince them to do 100%. That’s probably the hardest part, if not everybody’s excited or bored or wanting to be here, that makes my job really hard.”

Sometimes, students may not know how to work the keys on the laptops, so Mrs.Baldwin has to find a way to put into the day’s schedule a separate lesson on how to maneuver the skills.

Education is essential to everyone’s life and getting more knowledge is a part of growing and improving as a person.

Mrs.Baldwin is a prime example of someone who encourages students to be more engaged in their academics.

At the beginning of every day, she greets her students with smiles and light jokes. Right after the bell rings, all seriousness goes back to the class.

“It makes my heart nervous when you walk around with the computers,” she calls out as a few students roam around.

On the right side of the classroom towards the front, a white board has a small key that contains formulas of computer keys. While working on their Macbeth comic strips, students glance briefly at the board to follow whenever they need to in their own projects.

Seeing a couple students with snacks out, she warns, “No eating while Chroming. Put the food away you guys.”  

With students on their Chromebooks, the classroom is quiet and peaceful. Talking to each other in hushed voices, they are able to stay focused to get their assignments completed.

Open to any questions or concerns, Melissa Baldwin is there to the rescue and walks to students’ desks to give advice. Her tips flow into students’ minds, hopefully being remembered for future reference.

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