Minot High School-Central Campus biology teacher Julia Koble is excited about all of the opportunities that technology has opened up for the students in her classroom.
Koble was selected as a 2011 Siemens STEM Fellow last spring and learned about new ways to use technology and social media in the classroom during a week-long professional development program at Discovery Education's global headquarers in Silver Spring, Md. She and the 49 other teachers were chosen from among 4,000 applicants.
Before she went to the institute, Koble had thought she was ahead of the curve on the technology. After all, she, like other teachers in the district, makes use of an interactive white board in the classroom and her students use interactive clickers, or handheld wireless devices, to respond to her questions in the classroom. It is technology that enables instant feedback. She also uses Google Docs and has received training in other cutting-edge technology.
Julia Koble, a biology teacher at Minot High School-Central Campus, is a 2011 Siemens STEM Fellowship winner.
During the institute, though, she learned a lot of other methods that she is now using in her classroom. She's especially impressed by everything she can do with iPAD apps.
"They're free and there are so many of them," she said.
She now uses EdModo, an interactive message board for K-12 educators that bears a strong resemblance to Facebook, for all of her classes and the groups she advises. Students can log into EdModo and check their assignments for the next day, upload class assigments and e-mail their questions to Koble. They aren't able to send private messages to each other or outside the network, which makes it safe, said Koble.
Taking another hint from the institute, Koble has recorded herself giving the lectures for the classes and uploaded them to EdModo. The experts at the institute said the lectures have the most effect when the kids can see the teacher delivering the lecture, so Koble took video of herself giving the lecture and showing the kids the notes. Since some of her students are living in FEMA trailers without Internet access, Koble downloaded the lectures on iPODS or on flash drives so kids would be able to see them outside of school.
Kids are supposed to watch the lectures outside of class. In class they work on assignments and projects and Koble has more time to give students individual attention. Koble said she's found that this method allows her more time to "differentiate" instruction for students with differing ability levels.
Koble also uses EdModo with other groups, such as a group of students who have decided to do research to enter a competition later this school year.
She will be working on a group project on "eco-caching" later in the year with other members from the Institute. Teachers will take pictures of different locations in their area, record its GPS coordinates and also record the sounds or "soundscapes" of the place and try to record it on Google Earth. They will invite teachers from around the world to join them in the project.
The institute also encouraged the teachers to make use of other technology, such as Skype, and to encourage kids to use their cell phones to text-message answers for some questions in class or to take pictures. Kids are already using social media and cell phones, so they should take advantage of it and have them use the technology for educational purposes, said Koble.
Koble has been a teacher for 21 years, teaching in the Minot Public Schools for all but the first two years, which she taught at Bishop Ryan. She earned her bachelor's and her master's degrees through Minot State. She is the mother of four and just recently became a grandmother for the first time. She and her husband have also served as foster parents.
Koble said her kids didn't all learn the same way and neither do her students. Expanding her knowledge base as a teacher helps her to teach her students. It also makes her job more interesting, since learning about new technology and new ways of teaching the material makes her job fresh and exciting.
(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to mdnews@minot