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Teachers turn to students for lessons on apps

Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

When it comes to learning technology, a group of teachers knew just who to turn to Wednesday afternoon – the young kids at North Star Elementary School.

Three teachers were sitting at a small table inside the library at the after-school session, looking at fourth-grader Olivia Puetz as she explained how to use Chirp, a computer app, in a classroom.

Olivia explained that Chirp allows students and teachers to quickly share information, including short sound recordings and Internet links, on their computer devices.

Then she extended her iPad to the teachers and said, “Would you like to try it?”

North Star technology teacher April Requard and her after-school student group of fourth- and fifth-graders were hosting a seminar for about 45 teachers who wanted to learn about apps they could use in the classroom.

Requard’s after-school group meets once a week and is called “Students Working to Advance Technology.”

Requard said she liked the idea of her students being able to turn the tables and teach teachers because children are often so comfortable with technology.

“These kids, this is their world,” Requard said.

The seminar was set up like a speed-dating event. Groups of three to four teachers would move from table to table inside the library, spending three minutes apiece with a pair of students who would describe a particular app and how it could be used in the classroom.

Olivia, for example, told teachers Chirp could be used to send short lessons or assignment instructions to students who are home sick so they wouldn’t fall behind.

Two other students showed teachers how iMovie could be used for class projects and presentations.

Another pair of students explained how the Puppet Pals app worked. This app allows students to write scripts for animated puppets that look like famous people, from President Barack Obama to Oprah Winfrey, said fourth-grader Camryn Wharff.

“You can use it for a book report, like ‘All I know about Abraham Lincoln,’ ” Camryn told a trio of teachers.

John Baker Elementary Principal Jill Vice attended the event, too, and said she found it helpful.

Vice said she liked that teachers could tailor their use of the apps to their own lessons.

Yvonne Gonzalez, a second-grade teacher at John Baker Elementary, said she is thinking about using the Chirp app in her class.

“I’m just imagining using it to send students (Internet) links” during class so they could look up websites to help them with lessons, Gonzalez said.

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