Extreme Classroom Makeover | Oak Ridge Associated Universities



Gresham Students Give Extreme Classroom and Fun New Technologies Rave Reviews

Jenny Alvey and two science students

Used to be that Gresham Middle School’s Room 309 was just another science classroom — attractive, colorful and equipped with a modest pair of aging PCs and a chart of the scientific method on the wall. Hardly exceptional.

But that old science room now exists only in memory.

After more than a month spent using the high-technology features of their new classroom, compliments of ORAU, students in Ms. Jenny Alvey’s five, sixth-grade science classes seemed unanimous in their assessment. They praised Alvey’s totally-revamped “extreme classroom” and its cutting-edge learning system.

Student Daisha Nicely promptly pronounced the newly configured classroom “awesome.”

Student Rene Wells noted in Alvey’s new Extreme Classroom blog: “Your class is my favorite room. You deserve this classroom… you’re a great teacher!”

Students, responding to Alvey’s prompts on her blog, said they found the  iPod Touch  devices fun to use in conjunction with the Promethean ActivBoard, an interactive whiteboard.  Students use the iPod Touch devices to watch science videos, conduct internet searches, and run interactive applications and educational games.

Students Stephen Trewhitt and Anne Lindsey Cummings echoed praise for the extreme classroom. They especially enjoyed an ActivBoard activity called “feeding the shark,” a tool for taking attendance in which students move their name into the mouth of a shark to mark themselves “present.”

Student Taylor Pritchett agreed using the ActivBoard offered “a better way of taking attendance.”

And student Jahyla Lopez told Alvey that using ActivExpressions gear to take tests was “so cool! It was just like taking a written test, but better, bigger and a lot more fun!” Student Alyson Benusches agreed, saying: “If we’d taken the test on paper, it would’ve been boring. This way, it was fun!”

Student Trevor Stanley, who enjoyed a different interactive whiteboard setup, called a SMART Board, in his Ritta Elementary 5th grade class before moving to Gresham, was pleased to learn Alvey’s classroom had a similar feature and many other technology enhancements. “Science is my favorite class. I like tech stuff,” said Stanley.

Student Keeley Yeary could hardly wait to use the iPod Touches and ActivBoard even for daily activities like creating agendas and answering the daily “starter question” Alvey posts each morning to get students thinking about the day’s lessons.

Student Christine Owens called the classroom’s new ActivExpressions response system remotes a “brilliant idea.” Student Taylor Watkin liked using them to record responses to Alvey’s questions, which can be created during a lesson on the ActivBoard, and then made into a quiz over the material at the end of class. Alvey then uses the ActivBoard data-analysis application to check the students’ ActivExpression answers and assess what materials students have not mastered during class.

Student Chad Cooper, who noted he enjoys science, said: “I love to watch weather changing the face of the earth” by channeling various weather-related Web sites into the ActivBoard.

Student Jordan Patterson was pleased to find her classroom “creative and colorful,” and Lopez called it a “really awesome thing that you can have fun and learn at the same time.”

By September, Alvey saw how heavily students would use the iPod Touches. She asked parents to sponsor protective covers, so the units would last longer and benefit more students. As her new year has begun to get into full swing, Alvey’s kids are really enthused about the learning efforts.

“I love my science class now,” said student Chris Carter. “If I could, I’d just stay in there!”

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