LUMBERTON — As students prepare to head back to the classroom on Monday, their teachers have spent some time in class themselves as they add some state-of-the-art tools to their 21st Century Tool Kit.
The students in Stacy Lovdahl’s class spent a great portion of her class on their cell phones on Saturday. The class wasn’t texting. The phones were mostly pointed toward the ceiling as this class of teachers learned about virtual reality tools.
One of those students is Heather Locklear, a high school media coordinator at Purnell Swett High.
“In the virtual-reality session we used the tools that the students already have, their personal smartphone devices to create projects in the classroom to document different geographic locations. Today has been awesome and we know that it will increase student engagement and enhance learning,” said Locklear.
Locklear was among more than 350 educators from across the state who participated in the “Exploring the N.C. Digital Learning Competencies for Teachers Summer 2017” training at Lumberton High.
Jill Darrough coordinated the professional learning as a member of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Digital Learning Team.
“This is Day 8 of our trek across the state,” she said. “It is Digital Literacy Competencies to support the implementation of the Digital Learning Competencies in the new licensure policy update that requires all teachers to have two CEU or credits for digital learning competencies starting on or after June 30, 2019. It affects all educators that are renewing their license whether their teachers or administrators.”
Cindi Humphrey, the media coordinator at Littlefield Middle, said the training was timely for her school.
“Toward the end of the year, we bought the virtual-reality glasses and we didn’t get to use them like we thought we would. Ms. Buffkin and myself decided we will collaborate to teach the other science teachers. I think the virtual reality glasses were exciting,” she said.
Crystal Buffkin is a seventh-grade science teacher at Littlefield Middle. Unlike Humphrey, this will be her first year utilizing digital literacy with her students.
“I really enjoyed it. I am a hands-on teacher and I love to see my kids at stations and interacting because that is how I learn and I feel a lot of them are visual hands-on learners. The first thing I did when we saw it in the beginning session this morning was I texted Ms. Humphrey and I said we need to order this and she said we already have it. So we decided to come to the session this afternoon and what we saw in the afternoon session was really great,” said Buffkin.
Beth Madigan is one of the master teachers hosting the training.
She facilitated a session, The Ultimate Secret to Student Centered Learning and Digital Citizenship Games.
“Our first session was talking about student-driven instruction so that we are not the bearer of facts, but we are creating experiences for them that they can learn based on what their interests are and then this afternoon we talked about infusing digital citizenship content into all curriculum areas so all teachers are teaching students how to become good digital citizens whether using social media, on the web, or while doing research so they will be empowered,” she said.
Tasha Oxendine is a spokeswoman for the Public Schools of Robeson County.