The Learner First
The Learner First
Posted on 04/24/2018

The classroom learning environment is changing at an ever-increasing pace. A modern classroom is the new term for the way that technology is impacting how teachers instruct and how students learn. As more schools are making the transition from textbooks to computers the way students are learning is changing with it. Where, when, and how students learn is dramatically different than the days of paper and pencil-past.

Digital tools are computer applications that can be used to support student learning. The use of digital tools in a classroom could help a student learn a new concept. Or a digital tool could help extend a student’s understanding of a concept by diving deeper into the subject. The efficient use of digital tools in a classroom is more than just purchasing the technology devices.

Learner First Presentation - MaxThe Learner First (TLF) is a world-wide organization which aims to ease the transition from the traditional classroom and into a modern classroom experience. TLF identifies when the use of digital tools may best suit the needs of individual students.

Executive Director of Instructional Technology, Mark Vetter, said, “Is technology the best thing to use to teach a certain concept? And if technology is right, what is the right piece of the technology? You don’t use technology just because it is there because there are some lessons that are best taught without technology. There might be some students who excel learning a concept using technology but there may be other students who want other modalities.”

In September of 2015, the Puyallup School Board of directors was presented with the Empowering Puyallup initiative. With these rapid changes in technology and education in mind, Empowering Puyallup was approved by the School Board that December.

Empowering Puyallup seeks to maximize students’ learning using technology. Technology can empower a student in many ways. Technology can give students more opportunities to work alongside with peers using tools such as OneNote. Through Schoology, the Learning Management System, communication can increase between teachers and students. And the learning and understanding of concepts can accelerate with various technology tools.

“The reason why Microsoft reached out to us as one of five school districts in the world to pilot this program is because they love our concept of extending cognition and because it is all about the learning. It is because of our focus on the learning not just the device,” Vetter said.

As part of the Empowering Puyallup project, the roll out of one-to-one (1:1) devices began in the 2017 -2018 school year starting with 7th graders at the Junior Highs. The 1:1 devices were selected after careful research of what would best benefit students.

Although Empowering Puyallup is considering how technology can facilitate student achievement, technology is not the main focus. The focus of Empowering Puyallup is the way students learn, the way teachers interact with students, and the way parents stay engaged in their student’s education.

“The reason why Microsoft reached out to us as one of five school districts in the world to pilot this program is because they love our concept of extending cognition and because it is all about the learning. It is because of our focus on the learning not just the device,” Vetter said.

The goal of Empowering Puyallup is to extend the ability of every student. For students to independently access resources, demonstrate learning, communicate collaboratively and develop ownership over their own studies.

Learner First presentation - Shaw RoadTLF’s goal is to find what to change in teaching to support what works for each student. With a focus on personalized learning, TLF works toward the success of every child.

 “The Learner First, in exploration of our technology, is about finding the right tool to fit the right learning issue. Not every child needs every tool, but what is the tool for that teacher to teach that child,” Vetter said.

The personalization of teaching is truly the focus of everything that TLF does. The success of all students by teaching them methods that best match their learning style.

Maloney said, “This incredible partnership with Learner First, Microsoft, and Puyallup School District’s EdTech department allows for us to grow our instructional practices by enhancing instruction through the use of technology.  As I participated in the staff trainings at Shaw Road I was excited to see the amazing possibilities for our students, accessibility options for our parents and English Language Learners, and innovative and immediately applicable uses for our teachers and administrators.  I am looking forward to seeing the application within our classrooms at Shaw Road Elementary as students experience technology enhanced instruction with their teachers. Thank you, Shaw Road staff, and administrators for embracing this learning for our students.”