Digital Day shows off classroom’s future
Seventh-grader Angel Posadas works on her smart phone at Pennoyer School in Norridge on Digital Day, when students brought their own smart phones, tablets and other digital devices with wi-fi connections to use in class on May 24. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times
What is your favorite device?
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:29AM
Gabriella Nerdulli was spending a lot of time on her smart phone in class at Pennoyer School on May 24.
At first glance, an outsider might assume the seventh-grader was an insolent youth, ignoring instruction and texting friends or updating her status on Facebook.
But, she was actually taking tests administered by her teachers.
This was Digital Day, when students were allowed to bring in their smart phones, laptop computers and tablet devices because Pennoyer was conducting classes electronically. The day provided a glimpse into the classroom of the future.
“I liked having something different instead of books all the time and be able to do something with technology instead,” Nerdulli said, adding she’d prefer classes be taught this way. “I think it would be fun. I think it’s better than books and it would offer new experiences.”
The day was inspired by the nationwide Digital Learning Day, a campaign by the Alliance for Excellent Education to promote innovative teaching with digital media. The administration at Pennoyer jumped on board.
A fourth-grade class used an application called Wordle to work on character development.
In a science class, students worked on problems using their tablet devices, which sent their answers to the classroom’s whiteboard, which displayed their work in much the same way a student would write out his answer on the blackboard.
A second-grade class used Google Earth to locate and look at cities in a story about ducklings that had traveled along the east coast of the United States.
“I believe they were more actively engaged in the lessons,” said Principal Susan Miceli.
“It’s just another way of looking at their core classes.”
Miceli said the school provided professional development activities for teachers on how to use various technologies throughout the year in preparation for Digital Day, which will be useful down the road, too.
Thanks go to Norwood Park Township, the Parent Teacher Council and the board of education for providing funding for much of the technology in the school, she added.
Julia Peters, a social studies teacher, employed the ActivExpression Learner Response System, Youtube.com, blabberize.com, glogster.com and Power Point to administer a quiz and have students reveal their answers.
“I utilize different technology in the classroom to get students thinking, not to replace their ability to think,” she said. “The students really seem to enjoy using technology in the classroom.”
Part of that enjoyment was derived from much less physical strain.
Samantha Neri, a seventh-grader, brought in her iPad 2, which weighs just under a pound and a half.
“You don’t have to carry around the heavy books,” she said.
Miceli said this is the way all lessons could be taught in the future.
“I think it was a really huge success,” added Superintendent Michael Lubelfeld, “and it’s given us an awful lot to think about as a school moving forward.”