As a teacher at one of the HISD’s 11 pilot PowerUp schools, Mariela Niland is working to include more technology in her classroom at the Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy. Recently, the first-year teacher took part in a unique training that had her and her students swap roles to learn more about the latest and greatest tech tools and web applications. “I want to hear from them what I can do to make my lessons more interesting,” said Niland. “I want to know what digital tools and resources they enjoy using.”
Niland and her YWCPA colleagues got an earful from students who were excited to take part in the table-turning after-school exercise. The format allowed the girls to become the teacher, show off their tech savvy, and share some of their favorite websites.
Seventh-grader Cameron Masters also enjoyed being able to explain to her teachers how she learns best. “I wanted to show my teachers some more exciting websites they could start using in class,” said Masters. “Some of what they are using now is kind of interesting, but they don’t really capture my attention.”
Students who took part in the role reversal not only earned extra credit but also a new respect from their teachers. “It enlightened me,” said YWCPA teacher Latonya Brown. “It let me know what I need to do to reach them.”
YWCPA plans more student trainings in the future and hopes other PowerUp campuses will explore having students and teachers swap roles in the interest of creating more engaging and collaborative classrooms.
HISD’s PowerUp one-to-one laptop initiative has put 18,000 computers in the hands of students, who use them in the classroom and at home. The second phase of the program will add students at 18 more campuses, and all HISD high school students will have use of laptops by 2016 through PowerUp. For more information, go to houstonisd.org/powerup.