Dartmouth Middle students and staff highlight technology

Feb 13, 2018

School Committee members took a trip to South America to tour ancient Mayan ruins - all from the comfort of the Dartmouth meeting room.

The virtual trip was made possible through virtual-reality headsets supplied to members by Dartmouth Middle School students, present at the meeting to highlight the school’s technology advances.

Helen Mitchell, the school’s instructional technology specialist, led members through a virtual field trip enjoyed by middle schoolers using the virtual reality technology. Through special software, she manages the trips on her tablet, and the software even includes prompts and questions for students. Joined by a group of eighth grade students, the presentation also featured a video that highlighted how Dartmouth Middle School has increased its technology use over the past few years.

Highlights included the shift from desktops to more easily accessible Chromebook laptops, technology engineering and classes for building, new after-school programs like robotics clubs, and a digital literacy class.

Students also highlighted a new class this year, a sixth grade world cultures class, which uses technology to explore cultures around the world.

Students are even going on virtual field trips to middle schools across the country, Skyping with sometimes unknown schools during lunch breaks. By asking yes or no questions, students try to piece together who exactly they’re talking to.

Students were invited to weigh in on the impact of increased technology use. Katie Smith enjoys learning math through Sumdog, an online game that teaches math.

“It actually really helps me because you get the flow in and it helps with overall understanding of the topics,” Smith said.

Jillian Leary noted the school’s Google Docs integration makes it easier to write reports and projects.

Although technology use in the classroom has increased, it hasn’t replaced traditional learning.

“There is technology in the classroom, but one thing that hasn’t been lost is that important discussion,” Mitchell said. “Teachers feel strongly about the blended learning aspect and it’s something we’ve been working on.”

“I can definitely tell you we’re using everything we have, and it’s definitely enriched our instruction,” said Principal Darren Doane.