Area elementary students make trip to Springfield

Kids show off classroom technology to lawmakers

Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

LAKE IN THE HILLS – Elementary students from Lake in the Hills and Wonder Lake descended on the state capital earlier this week as amateur lobbyists, demonstrating the importance technology plays in their education.

Carol Johnson, a fourth-grade teacher at District 158’s Martin Elementary, and three of her students met with state lawmakers such as Rep. Mike Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, and Sen. Karen McConnaughay, R-St. Charles, in the Capitol Rotunda in Springfield to showcase the district’s emerging “One-to-One” program.

Martin students for the first time this year used tablets, not textbooks, for the program to learn literacy.

Students Sarah Baier, Angel Wat and Christopher Rebusit presented the different educational programs and applications they use every day on the tablet.

“Technology is drastically changing how students learn,” Johnson said. “What lawmakers are deciding on has so much to do with us and the kids’ future. They need to be up to date on how students are learning.”

The Martin students joined 57 other schools from across the state in Springfield on Tuesday for TECH 2013, a public awareness event spearheaded by the Illinois Computing Educators.

The annual event allows state policymakers to meet their youngest constituents as they demonstrate how they use technology in the classroom.

The event also underlines the importance dwindling state education funds play in supporting classroom technology.

Third- and fourth-graders at District 36’s Harrison Elementary also demonstrated in Springfield how they use programs, such as Google Earth, for their education.

Harrison teacher Jamie Gieseke and students Molly Harrison and Nickolas Metropoulos showed lawmakers how Harrison students are becoming independent learners through online programs such as Comic Book, Story Robe and Edmodo.

In District 158, Martin Elementary was the first school to strictly use tablets in a digital-learning program that’s being paid for through the district’s textbook and technology budgets. District administrators last week unveiled plans to expand the program to early elementary and middle school classrooms next year.

Illinois schools already are lagging behind other states in embracing classroom technology, said Marisa Burkhart, District 158’s educational technology director. Events such as TECH 2013 remind lawmakers of the importance adequate state funding plays in spurring technological innovation in classrooms, she said.

“It’s effective at bringing awareness to the good, innovating things happening at our schools,” Burkhart said. “It’s a good opportunity for our kids to have a connection to the political process and for lawmakers to have a connection to what’s going on at our schools on a daily basis.”

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