Pittsburgh teachers use technology to help kids learn in new ways

Teaching remotely is a big challenge, but many local school districts are taking advantage of new technologies that make it easier for teachers and a lot more interesting for kids.

Teachers at Pine Richland schools wear wireless microphones, use tracking cameras, document cameras and interactive display boards with mounted cameras so the kids both in school and at home can see the same thing.

In the Elizabeth Forward and Avonworth School Districts, teachers are using Gizmos virtual science labs that allow the students to manipulate the variables and work together, like a real lab.

Student Joseph Maksin grew virtual plants.  He said,  “You got to pick what type of plant you were using, how much soil, the amount of sun it was getting, how much water it was getting, and it would show a time-lapse of how it was growing.”

His biology teacher at Elizabeth Forward Middle School, Rachel Lintelman, said, “I liked that there all these options they were able to interact with, and no kid had the same exact answer as any other kid because they got to all do it how they wanted to.”

Elizabeth Forward schools are taking kids on virtual field trips using Google Earth and PBS online.  American history teacher Amy Williams, at Elizabeth Forward Middle school, says her students followed Marco Polo’s travels on the Silk Road.

“It brings excitement to them in their own bedroom or living room, wherever they happen to be working,” she said.

Avonworth Elementary 6th grader Bavly Naklah loves the new app, Sora, that helps him find books based on his classmates’ recommendations, and he likes getting e-books quicker than physical books.

“You don’t have to wait to go to school or the public library or something like that  to find  a book.   The books (are) in your fingertips, on your laptop, waiting to be opened and to be read,” Naklah says with the enthusiasm of a book-lover.

Avonworth Elementary librarian Sara Osborn said she may continue with e-books after the pandemic because, “The benefit with e-books (that we ) haven’t had in past is that they can get the book (quicker).  Once I order it, it’s in the next day on the e-book platform.”