TECH-ING INTO GLOBAL RESOURCES
Kelly Hines is making worldly connections for her students.
It likely started with a Wonder Woman record player and then blossomed at the keys of an electric typewriter—whatever the inspiration, Kelly Hines has always been interested in learning about and using the latest technology. Kelly, a fourth-grade teacher, takes this enthusiasm to work every day and is always on the lookout for new ways to enrich the classroom experience.
The results have been a great success. Take, for example, last year’s Read Across America—Hines’ class Skyped with students from other states. “The opportunity to talk to other kids their age in the same time zone but 12 hours away was such a powerful experience,” she says. “The kids began to think of themselves as part of a larger community.”
Hines works hard to put tech into the hands of teachers, training them to use the new tools in ways that will enhance the learning process. Her enthusiasm has been contagious. “A core group of teachers have become really enthusiastic about it,” she says. “We’ve moved past using basic tech to sharing curriculum ideas and tips.” Every K-8 classroom in Hines' school has Webcams and provides access to textbook programming as well as educational games.
Online learning has enabled Hines and her fellow teachers to tap into a world of resources not readily available in Washington, North Carolina, a rural community of just 5,000 people. Whether studying a foreign country or an unfamiliar state, the students seem more connected to the material than they would be using a textbook or listening to a lecture.
Making Connections for Kids
Hines started Keeping Kids First last year in the interest of sharing information and ideas about the educational potential of the latest technology. At first, she says, “it was a way to organize resources for myself and my teammates.” It didn’t take long for her to find a global community of educators eager to pass along the latest tips and tools. “I would never know about certain projects and opportunities without this worldwide collaboration,” she says. Social networking among educators has enabled Hines and her fellow teachers to provide students with “experiences you can’t re-create in the classroom without online access.”
For all its benefits, Hines cautions against adopting technology for technology’s sake. “It’s about content, process, pedagogy at first—providing students with opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise,” she says. Schools need to have a clear plan for incorporating technology into the curriculum. The ultimate success of any program, it seems, is good old-fashioned follow-up and support. In this way, Hines says, teachers and students will reap the benefits of tech and “get back to the idea of teaching and learning.”
In addition to teaching fourth grade, Kelly Hines provides staff development for teachers. The File Cabinet earned a nomination for Edublog’s Best Educational Wiki within its first year. Interested in keeping up? Follow Hines on Twitter.
By Kathy Satterfield
Kathy Satterfield is an editor and writer with more than 10 years of experience specializing in educational media for children. Most recently, as Senior Editor for TIME for Kids magazine, she managed the content of the 2nd- to 3rd-grade News Scoop edition and researched, reported and wrote for the 4th- to 6th-grade World Report edition. Kathy has also written for Grandparents.com and Fairfield Parent magazine.