A seventh grade English/language arts project at Granbury Middle School was featured in the June 2018 issue of District Administration magazine, which honored 22 schools and districts for education technology initiatives as part of the Schools for TechXEcellence program.
Students were lacking sufficient knowledge of people, places, stories and events to complete high-quality writing assignments, according to teacher Jaron Ward. To address this, the HELP database was created by students to provide better source material to supplement their writing.
In building the database, students were first given upcoming writing subjects. Due to the limited number of Chromebooks available, they worked in pairs to compose five higher-level questions that might be used as writing prompts. From there, they researched history, current events, literature, and pop culture to find examples that could be used to answer those questions. Their examples were uploaded to a single Google database.
For instance, on the topic of success, entries ranged from Winston Churchill to the founders of companies such as Google and Apple. For good leadership, examples included school principal Pat Yelverton.
“The whole class added to the same site,” Ward stated. “It was then presented to 8th grade English I students, and a miniature writing workshop was given.”
In their essays, students had to use three to five examples from the database. The success and popularity of the initiative has inspired students to continue to add entries for future workshops and assignments.
“This project was a lot of fun and has greatly improved the quality of examples in student writing,” commented Ward. “I feel like I learned as much as they did through this process.”
TechXcellence was created by the magazine and sponsored by HP and Intel to recognize schools that have implemented innovative, effective, and replicable technology programs that contribute meaningfully to student or operational success. The 2018 honorees were selected by the program’s judges from numerous nominations, and reflect programs that demonstrate effective and replicable success.
“What these stories tell us is that students are excited to use the latest devices and applications as part of their education, which is fueled by the vision and drive of teachers, principals and district leaders,” remarked JD Solomon, the magazine’s editorial director. “We hope our readers are inspired by the integration of technology demonstrated by these honorees to launch similar initiatives in their own schools.”