For children of the 1980s, technological advancement in the classroom involved the teacher slapping a transparency on an overhead projector.
By the late 1990s, school districts on the cutting edge of technology installed overhead projectors connected directly to teachers’ computers, and students were dazzled by PowerPoint presentations.
Such “advancements” are archaic by 21st century standards. Today’s students are technologically literate in ways that some adults perhaps find difficult to comprehend.
Children are growing up immersed in technology that, just a decade ago, was not much more than an idea. This cultural setting presents tremendous opportunities for McKinney ISD teachers and administrators to engage students, elevate learning and communicate with students and parents through the use of technology.
A tour of MISD classrooms reveals a host of technological tools at work. Performing arts instructors are using the latest iPhone and iPad apps to tune instruments, record student performances and provide feedback on the accuracy of musical pieces.
Educational iPad apps are being used to help students better understand science, author their own stories, edit videos and prepare professional-quality presentations. SmartBoards bring subjects such as history and government to life, provide hands-on lessons in astronomy, and show real-world application of physics and calculus.
While effective learning begins with quality curriculum and instruction, teachers are using technology to engage and motivate students in new ways every day.
By introducing students to new tools and embracing technology they already use, McKinney ISD is preparing children to not only be successful in today’s rapidly changing world but to be the innovators and leaders of tomorrow.
This past spring, each of McKinney ISD’s three high schools competed for the first time in the FIRST Robotics Competition. Grant money from the Texas Workforce Commission and JCPenney provided the entry fee and raw materials. The kids provided the ingenuity and determination.
With only six weeks to design, build and test, the teams put in long hours to meet competition deadlines. The hard work paid off. McKinney High School earned the All-Star Rookie Award and a spot at the FRC Championship in April. McKinney Boyd received the Industrial Design Award. At the national championship, the McKinney High team performed well but did not finish among the top contenders. The students will apply the lessons they learned toward next year’s effort.
Scott Johnson Middle School looked skyward this year for teaching opportunities and launched the SJMS Rocketry Group, an attention-grabbing setting in which to engage students in the application of science, technology, math and engineering principles. The SJMS Rocketry Group is the first team from McKinney ISD to enter and qualify for the Team America Rocketry Challenge.
In August 2011, McKinney ISD debuted its mobile application, misdGO. Believed to be one of the most comprehensive k-12 apps in the country, misdGO provides a host of information to MISD students and parents – everything from news alerts to lunch menus. Push notifications enable the district to send out vital, up-to the-minute information when inclement weather arrives.
Response to the app has been overwhelmingly positive. To date, the district has seen more than 11,000 downloads of misdGO.
Performing and Musical Arts:
Classical instruments meet modern-day technology as members of the Faubion Middle School Orchestra fine-tune their skills using Smartmusic software. When students plug in, the program provides visual feedback and statistics on the accuracy of the performance. Now, kids can quickly see where their playing is perfect and where it needs improvement.
Technology is intertwined in nearly every subject area in McKinney ISD. Bilingual staff members are using iPods in the classroom to record lessons in both English and Spanish, and sending these home with students so that non-English speaking parents can be involved in the learning process.
About the author: Shane Mauldin is a MISD communications specialist.