Tahlequah Public Schools serves our community through four elementary sites, a middle school and high school. Summer Social is the kick-off event for the new school year at all sites. Greenwood Elementary’s parking lot was overflowing with families ready to start the new year. Families took time to visit classrooms, meet teachers, check on bus routes, register for Boys & Girls Club, check on Johnson O’Malley supplies, visit the library booth, and consult with special services with a speech pathologist and English Language Learner instructor. Several new teachers greeted students including Ginger Allen in Kindergarten, Donna Reneau in second grade, Kimberly Davis in third grade, Delia Thurman in fourth grade Math, Social Studies/Science, and Charrel Lenaburg in fifth grade Math. Additions to Greenwood’s support staff are Joe Freymuth, Elizabeth Shirley, Jesse Kohne, Carlena Stricker and Sandy Johnson. Familiar faces in new positions include Misty Boston in fourth grade Language Arts, Christi McDonald and Michelle Barnes in special services. Also new to Greenwood are Tracy Kerr, Nancy Edscorn, and Janel Ferguson. Together, these staff members work together to provide quality services for the students at Greenwood.
The literacy coaches and math coach have been busy aligning curriculum to the new Oklahoma Academic standards to ensure our students receive appropriate instruction for each grade level. These coaches are valuable resources to our staff when planning and providing quality instruction. In addition to quality literacy and math instruction, the district recognizes the value of incorporating digital learning in the classroom. Learning new skills requires instruction for not only students, but also teachers. Kym Tinsley has been employed as an elementary technology coach which is another valuable resource assisting teachers in use of technology in teaching children. As part of the district’s long range plan for technology integration, all students in grades three and six have been provided with chrome books. Students will use devices to access online textbooks with supporting resources at their fingertips. Technology in the classroom provides exciting new instructional adventures for both teachers and students.
Greenwood Elementary recently received an Oklahoma Educational Technology Trust (OETT) grant. The grant funds have purchased iPads for each classroom. Teachers are able to utilize the tablets during small group instruction and workstations to provide innovative activities to support standards and objectives. Along with the equipment, the grant provides professional development throughout the year. The training is provided through the K20 Center in Norman. Field representatives travel to Tahlequah to assist teachers in providing effective instruction using iPads in the classroom. Technology can bring the real world into the classroom which means we can prepare students for the exciting adventures ahead.
Virtual field trips will be one focus of upcoming training. Thanks to teacher Elizabeth Rader, third grade students were the first to experience a conversation with an Oklahoma University paleontologist through a skype interaction as a part of a fossil unit of study. Fourth grade is using technology to research event planning for an exciting birthday party. Students will graph data, cost comparisons and surveys before developing a presentation to promote the event. Digital instruction brings reality to project based learning.
Technology is very relevant to our students and their lives. It is a useful tool for engagement, creating, researching and supporting what students are learning in class. We are responsible for making sure these devices make a difference in our classrooms through authentic connections to learning. As teachers begin to use technology to further their own learning, they will gain a better understanding of how it can also change their teaching practices.