As you walk the halls of Highfalls Elementary, you will see a lot of big things happening in this small school. I would like to highlight one teacher that is doing lots of big things with her fifth grade students. Stacey Rillo is a seasoned vet when it comes to using technology in her classroom. Last year, her sixth graders were part of the Chromebook roll-out at Highfalls when the middle schoolers received their 1:1 devices. This year, she has moved to fifth grade and was chosen to take part in the elementary device pilot. At the beginning of the year, Rillo said it was a big adjustment to going from having Chromebooks in the classroom to having only four desktop computers. In one year she had grown accustomed to having them and had to re-think the way she was going to teach her students without them. She likes having devices in her classroom because she feels she is able to eliminate a lot of her paper copies and is able to communicate with her students and parents more effectively than before. When you walk into her classroom, you can see that in the three months her students have been working with their ASUS Transformers, they have become a natural extension into their daily lessons.
I had the pleasure of hanging out with Mrs. Rillo’s class last week during a Social Studies lesson. As students began, they signed on to Google Classroom. Mrs. Rillo uses this platform as the hub of her lessons. Here, they immediately access an article and a Discovery Education video about inventors to kick off their project on modern inventions. Mrs. Rillo uses project based learning to get deep into the content with her students. She says that using devices in her classroom has highly motivated her students and allows her to create projects that are engaging and meaningful for her students. She finds them to be more engaged and says that it is easier to ‘hook’ her students on to what she is doing because they are excited for the opportunity to use technology in the classroom.
Mrs. Rillo likes being part of the elementary device pilot because she feels she is able to have a voice in the decision making for students across Moore County. Her advice for the elementary teacher that have not yet started using devices in their classrooms is: “‘Once you get your hands on it, play around with it or hook up with another teacher and have them give you lessons on using the device. Choose an app a week or month and gradually start using it in your classroom. Take baby steps to make sure you are comfortable and your students will run with it. We need to embrace technology because it is here, and it is the world we live in and the only world our students have ever known.”