“If you don’t use technology, you’re doing a disservice to your students”
says Suzanne Paisarn, Technology Coach at Warrigal Road State School in Brisbane, in the third episode of the Explain Everything Podcast – EdTech Talks. And it’s that firm belief that prompted her to dust off a few iPads laying in a school cabinet and find ways to utilize them to awaken student creativity and learning ownership. That one action turned into a school-wide digital transformation, a fun adventure towards greater engagement she and her entire school have been on ever since.
Using technology to engage students
Suzanne wasn’t always a Technology Coach. Back when she decided to incorporate iPads into her teaching, she was an English teacher who just wanted to engage her students better. She was determined to find ways technology could help her with that, and soon her fellow teachers were asking her how she had gotten so good at using tech to get her students excited about learning. Her answer, in short, was: “I’m not really! I just wanted to keep learning.”
Suzanne started her work as Technology Coach by, as she puts it, holding the hands of teachers just getting started using Explain Everything on their iPads. She ran numerous coaching and PD sessions, all aimed at building teachers’ confidence and making sure they were not left to fend for themselves. And once they felt confident with the technology, the teachers began finding new and creative ways to utilize the power of technology in their teaching, too. Needless to say, the support that Suzanne and her fellow Technology Coach, Zoy, offered school staff was what resulted in the entire school opting for edtech.
Explain Everything as a student tool
Explain Everything whiteboard is a flexible tool that can be used a plethora of ways by both students and teachers, but at Warrigal, it’s the student use that really shines. Children of all ages use this recordable digital whiteboard to present their stories and poetry in multimodal ways that allow them to add illustrations, sound effects, and more. And knowing that they will be able to present their creations to an audience of their peers motivates them even more.
To hear Suzanne tell it:
Inclusivity through technology
Not every child is going to flourish in a traditional, read-a-book kind of learning environment. One of the greatest things about using tech in the classroom according to Suzanne – and many other teachers we have spoken with – is how it levels the playing field for students with all sorts of different skill sets. Tech also makes it easy for students who may need a few tries to understand something the comfort of, say, being able to rewatch an explainer video as many times as they need, as opposed to having to ask for assistance over and over.
The little boy whose video you can watch below had never liked writing – that is, until he was given the opportunity to create stories using his voice.
Teachers doing digital transformation together
It’s not all just about the students. Teachers at Warrigal Road State School save time and share knowledge and experience by co-creating numerous templates they can then send to each other at staff meetings. This in turn encourages them to continue to develop their technology skills. Templates like the one shown below can be used an infinite number of times…all while avoiding needless paper waste!
Take a look at this whiteboard template example:
Suzanne, Zoy, and the entire administration of Warrigal Road State School have done a truly admirable job with their schoolwide implementation of educational technology. Sign up to watch the whole insightful interview and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or need a bit of advice or support to make this happen at your institution!