The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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February 14, 2014

Teachers exchange roles with pupils for tech lessons

WEBB CITY, Mo. — Roles were reversed Friday afternoon when seventh-grade students became the teachers at Webb City Junior High School.

For an hour and a half, teachers were the ones who sat at desks while students presented lessons on technology that can be used in classrooms.

The students are part of an e-Leader Program that was created by Shannon Ellis, a communication arts teacher who also serves as the program’s coordinator.

Ellis said the program gives students a chance to learn how to work with each other in groups while solving problems from start to finish.

A survey was sent out to teachers, asking what technology would help them the most in the classroom, and students developed their lesson plans based on the teachers’ needs.

When students approach her with questions, Ellis said, instead of giving them the answer, she guides them to finding their own solutions.

Students used much of their own time to put together presentations, Ellis said, and they learned from each other by watching how different groups designed their lessons.

Teachers gathered Friday in several classrooms that were designated for different learning activities, then students gave a description of the topic and answered questions.

Alicia Withers, a communication arts teacher, said she learned how to add text to a video using Popcorn Maker, a video editing program.

“If we ever have a student with a disability, we can type out the words for them to read,” she said. “It’s a good program to use.”

The student teachers were dressed in blue polo shirts and khaki pants, and Withers said she was impressed by their professionalism.

“They did a very good job,” she said. “They were professional and understanding of those who didn’t understand.”

Seventh-grader Olivia Jackson taught several presentations about Prezi, noting that the program would be useful for both teachers and students.

“It would be easier to make book reports or presentations,” Olivia said, adding the students also wanted to learn more about Prezi, so they decided to just “dive right in.”

Gail Rice, a seventh-grade resource teacher, learned more about Prezi from Jackson and said she plans to use it in her classroom.

“Powerpoints were getting kind of boring, so the Prezi makes it a little more interesting and a little more fun,” Rice said. “I’m not very tech savvy, so it’s good to know.”

Rice also learned about an application called Remind101 that teachers can use to send group text messages to students in a specific class.

The school is on a block schedule, Rice said, so sometimes a teacher won’t see a class for a few days. The application is used to remind students about tests or homework assignments, but students cannot respond to the text and no phone number is shown.

Rice praised the students and said their presentations were helpful.

“To see them in this light is different, too,” she said. “They seem very self-assured, and they’re very confident in what they’re doing. That’s good to see.”

Some of them were nervous at first, Rice said, but they overcame it. She also enjoyed getting to be a student for the afternoon.

“You get to ask silly questions, or pretend you’re not prepared,” Rice said, laughing. “And give them a hard time a little bit.”

Twitter and Prezi

A few of the subjects that students gave presentations on included the social media website Twitter, the online presentation tool Prezi, and a video editor called Popcorn Maker.

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