Meridian’s ‘iTeam’ thrives at technology fair

The “iTeam” from Discovery Elementary can’t wait to see if the students in this Meridian school show dramatic increases in student achievement growth.

The teachers who make up the iTeam are giddy with excitement and anticipation for what they see as a year of tremendous possibility.

“It’s a dream come true,” said teacher Lisa Bray of the adventure the iTeam and Discovery Elementary are about to embark on.

The iTeam and more than 750 teachers from the Meridian School District spent Thursday at a technology fair. The day-long event was hosted by vendors so it was free for the district and teachers. Multiple vendors set up booths plus 111 sessions were offered on a variety of technology related topics, including teaching with an iPad and using Edmodo.

“Teachers are here to learn how to integrate technology,” said event organizer Bernadette Sexton. “With this year’s theme being Common Core.”

tech fair
Teachers at Meridian’s annual technology fair.

This was the sixth — and biggest — technology fair hosted for the teachers in Idaho’s largest district.

The teachers from the Discovery Elementary  iTeam attended as a group, to maximize their learning and collaboration.

“This gives us more ideas,” said the iTeam’s Melissa Slocum. “We’re eager to learn.”

The iTeam secured just last month $370,000 from the State Department of Education’s technology pilot program. This iTeam intends to make good use of the money.

The staff has already purchased 240 iPads so that each room has 10. Each room also has access to Promethean boards and slates, Lenovo notebooks and Apple TVs.

“We will go from our students using technology a couple of hours once a week to every day,” said teacher Kevin Spenner.

Some teachers at Discovery Elementary have rarely used technology in the classroom. That’s not stopping the iTeam from its school-wide integration goal. Some of the grant money will be used for Lisa Bray to become a part-time trainer for the whole school year.

“We plan to meet the academic and social needs of our kids,” Bray said.

It’s not only about technology integration. The iTeam also is focused on successfully implementing Idaho Core Standards and changing the classroom design to maximize learning, no longer using traditional rows of desks but using tools and configurations that support student collaboration.

“We’re using student-centered learning that is teacher facilitated,” Slocum said. “Children will be creating and publishing in a new environment with new standards and new tools.”

Lauri Wright shared the enthusiasm for the upcoming school year with her iTeam co-workers.

“It’s all tied to Idaho Core, which is a non-issue because our district fully supports it,” Wright said. “We are lucky, too, that we have great support from our parents. We are matching and exceeding their expectations.”

In the works from the iTeam is a website that will share tips and tricks and policies and procedures.

“We want to create something that can be modeled and replicated across the state,” Wright said. “We have the staff, students and parents to do it. We are really excited.”

Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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