Johnston County Schools presented the 15th Annual Digital Learning Expo on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at Johnston Community College. Students and teachers demonstrated best practices using instructional media and technology as a vehicle for learning.
All of Johnston County’s schools presented exciting new teaching and learning opportunities. In all, the showcase had nearly 300 participants, not including the local community participants who attended the floating event and a handful of curious visitors from other districts.
“There was a palpable excitement and buzz in the exhibit hall,” said Dr. Fran Riddick, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Support and Development. “Talking to the students at the various booths, I was impressed with their depth of knowledge. I truly feel that the digital tools engaged the students in their learning, excited them about learning, and resulted in a deeper and more extensive level of learning.”
A wide variety of technology-oriented lessons and activities were highlighted during the event. Topics ranging from “3D Printing” to “Coding” were presented by articulate students throughout the district who eagerly shared what they do with technology on a daily basis.
Smithfield-Selma High School’s Kiara Adorno demonstrated her skills in designing 3-D models for printing, while her classmate Raul Menjivar explained how he built and programmed a robot he had on display. Their Robotics Club advisor, Richard Phillips, was on hand to help other teachers learn more about the technology behind their projects.
Students from River Dell Elementary and Four Oaks Elementary shared their expertise in basic coding. Both of these schools utilize materials provided for free from Google via the company’s “Computer Science First” program, which is designed to be implemented as an eight-week themed club. Students voluntarily sign up to be part of these additional activities at River Dell and choose it as an elective at Four Oaks. The program helps students to explore coding through a variety of topics including gaming and animation.
Other schools took a different spin on their presentations sharing how digital tools are transforming their day to day instruction. Students from West Smithfield Elementary shared how they use a digital comic creator called “MakeBeliefsComix” to demonstrate an understanding of the weather, and students from North Johnston Middle shared how they use a tool called “Venngage” for making infographics to collect science data and put it into an engaging format.
“It was incredible to see that the projects this year were focused on students creating, innovating, and learning from the process,” said Pamela Batchelor, JCS Digital Learning Team member. “This approach affords them the opportunity to see that they can fail and try again.”
Several schools also shared a few innovative practices that they have been doing in their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) labs and media centers. Cleveland Middle and South Johnston High both demonstrated the technology and activities they provide for their students in their newly created MakerSpaces, which are spaces where students can gather to create, invent, explore, tinker, and learn. These two schools are among several in the district that are transforming their media centers from traditional information warehouses to a learning commons, where all types of learning takes place with students at the heart of the process.