Administrator’s Corner: Technology in schools

Published 6:56 pm Friday, October 25, 2019

Administrator’s Corner by Kathy Niebuhr

Kathy Niebuhr


Albert Lea Area Schools and the community have invested in educational technology and integration in a number of ways over the last several years. Our model for technology education and integration is called ConnectED Learning.

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I reached out this past week to seven teachers who are at the core of our technology integration to ask them to share some highlights of technology use in our schools so far this year. Thanks to the building technology integration coaches for their work with students and staff: Mark Nechanicky, Stacy Wangen, Staci Waltman, Kristen Seeger, Burke Egner, Lynda Kiesler and Brian Blatti.

In elementary, technology tools are used by teachers to organize lessons, engage students and inform parents about their students’ work in school. One tool is Seesaw which is an online portfolio that students use to demonstrate learning such as creating drawings, annotating photos, journaling and recording their voices to read for fluency or to explain or justify thinking. This website/app also allows parents to view students’ work in order to stay connected to classroom instruction and student learning.

In grades three through 12, Google Apps for Education (G-Suite) provides teachers and students access to Google Docs/Drawing/Slides for writing, creative publishing and presentations. Teachers organize online assignments and activities in Google Classroom, an online learning management system in the elementary and middle school. Hands-on STEM classes along with enhanced digital citizenship classes help build students’ competence in the middle school. A new class offering at Southwest Middle School is the techxploration class, which embeds offerings from ALL of the STEM related course offerings to better help students plan their elective choices as a seventh grade student. 

At the high school, all students and teachers have access to Schoology as our online learning management system.  Teachers use FlipGrid, which gives all students a chance to have a voice in the classroom. It allows teacher feedback on student understanding of lesson content. One way for checking for understanding using technology is to have students create short videos using their chromebooks to prompts assigned by the teacher. Other teachers are using Quizlet Live for review of material taught in class and EdPuzzle, both which assist teachers in creating engaging ways for students to review content. All of these platforms along with direct teacher interaction allow our students to experience friendly competition as students work in cooperative teams to answer questions about what they have been learning in class while practicing communication and teamwork skills.

If you are a parent/guardian and have questions about accessing any of these platforms to see your student’s work, please contact your student’s teacher for more information.

Part of our district’s mission is to create lifelong learners. Technology can give voice to all students and assist to engage at school and beyond. We strive to balance technology use with the human touch and art of teaching that our teachers and staff bring to the classroom. We work at ensuring technology does not become a distraction, rather an enhancement to students’ education.

Kathy Niebuhr is the executive director of administrative services/technology for Albert Lea Area Schools.