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School delves into latest teaching tool

. Students at Turner Valley School have been getting their hands on some of the newest technology in North America. The school was selected to pilot the Nureva Span Wall for the 2015-16 school year.
Michael Keenan, foreground, and JT Morrisey use the new Nureva Span Wall in Turner Valley School’ s learning commons on Dec. 18. The school is piloting the technology
Michael Keenan, foreground, and JT Morrisey use the new Nureva Span Wall in Turner Valley School’ s learning commons on Dec. 18. The school is piloting the technology and gets to keep it when the term is up.

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Students at Turner Valley School have been getting their hands on some of the newest technology in North America.

The school was selected to pilot the Nureva Span Wall for the 2015-16 school year.

The Nureva Span Wall allows students to share ideas on a 20-foot screen from their personal tech devices. For the last four months staff and students in the K-9 school have been using the new technology in the learning commons to share ideas and concepts on a 20-foot screen from their personal devices.

“It’s the next generation of technology,” said Carol Webb, the school’s library learning commons specialist. “A small board has one touch point and this one has 20. It can have any number of devices attached to it. They don’t have to raise their hands, they can type in their comment and post it remotely.”

Webb explained student’s ideas during classroom discussions using the Nureva Span Wall fly up on the oversized screen in colourful squares, appearing as a collage of ideas.

“It’s a tool that offers students the ability to see big chunks of information at once,” she said. “This wider perspective helps students make sense of all the information coming at them, allowing them to sort it, think critically about it and at the same time providing students an opportunity to become hands-on co-creators in the learning experience. It’s a very large virtual screen where you can create, share, search for information and have access to everything that you would have on a small device, but 20 feet of it.”

The school has used the classroom collaboration system for tasks such as streaming Christmas carols to classroom brainstorming sessions.

“Because it’s so huge it really promotes kids getting up and moving, which is another big part of student engagement,” Webb said. “All of those kids that used to wiggle and squirm in their chairs, they are moving things on the wall and sharing that way.”

Among those enjoying the new technology is Grade 6 student JT Morrisey.

“It’s good that you can share with your class because it’s a big screen instead of a small computer screen,” he said. “I really like how you can multitask on it.”

Morrisey said his class used the Nureva Span Wall to work on a novel study together recently.

“Our teacher posted a bunch of different tasks for us to do and we answered them with the sticky notes on the Span Wall,” he said. “You get to see what (our classmates) are thinking. It gives you different ideas and it gives you a whole different look on other things.”

Morrisey’s classmate Michael Keenan likes how students don’t have to crowd around a small screen when looking at each other’s ideas.

“JT and I have done a novel study on it and it worked out great,” he said. “It’s easy to use and it’s easier to learn. You can bring your whole class and they can see the whole thing.”

Part of the pilot project agreement involved students giving feedback to Nureva Inc, a Calgary collaboration-solutions company that develops education solutions with simple hardware, software.

Webb said representatives visited the school earlier this fall to talk with students, who made such suggestions as creating an app so they can connect their phones to the Span Wall.

“They are definitely technologically very aware and experimental,” she said of the students. “Kids that are tech savvy have an opportunity in this instance to really shine. It creates a lot of flexibility and agility for those student who are motivated and also for students who can use a little inspiration.”

Being selected to pilot the Nureva Span Wall was perfect timing for Turner Valley School, considering it had just completed transforming its library into a learning commons, said Webb.

“We had this beautiful new facility that matched the era of the technology,” she said. “It was a good fit.”

Stationary book shelves were replaced with moveable ones, stationary tables were replaced with those with wheels and can be fit together to create various work spaces and the seating is more comfortable with soft chairs, Webb explained.

“In keeping with the ministerial order from Alberta education, which has required all schools to have a learning commons, it is a vision for school libraries to become more technologically advanced so that students have access to hardware and software that enables them to get information from various types of technology,” she said. “It’s no longer a quiet place to come and read, it’s a bustling busy place that’s full of kids collaborating and investigating and researching in a much more social way than we used to.”




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Tammy Rollie

About the Author: Tammy Rollie

Tammy Rollie is a staff reporter at OkotoksToday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper, focusing on Wheel's West, local arts and culture and entertainment. For story tips contact trollie@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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