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This is not your father’s classroom: Technology and its ties to curriculum take center stage at Lower Dauphin event

By Phyllis Zimmerman Special to the Press & Journal
Posted 4/5/17

Lower Dauphin High School buzzed with activity on Saturday morning, April 1, as the public explored four dozen displays and presentations that comprised the Lower Dauphin Curriculum & Technology …

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This is not your father’s classroom: Technology and its ties to curriculum take center stage at Lower Dauphin event

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Lower Dauphin High School buzzed with activity on Saturday morning, April 1, as the public explored four dozen displays and presentations that comprised the Lower Dauphin Curriculum & Technology Fair.

Superintendent Sherri Smith said the fair, the district’s first in eight years, was “just an opportunity to show all we’re providing to our students. It’s because of our community’s taxpayers that we have all this. This is to show how we’re using our money.

“The way we use technology has changed a lot over the years. Our students live in a very technical world now. We can’t bring them into an educational environment where’s there not a world that they’re used to. Everything today is technologically based. We’ve got to replicate this experience for our students,” Smith said.

The fair’s displays and presentations demonstrated how technology has been integrated into the district’s overall curriculum from elementary grades to high school. A “Go Noodle” presentation showcased a website that gives elementary students “brain breaks” each day through dancing and other movement. Nye Elementary teachers Lindsay Adams and Kaylee Keener were on hand Saturday to show the public how to move it.

Nearby, Lori Fischer’s seventh-grade life science students were ready to show off their Make a Difference, or MAD, Thinking Challenge projects. For this, students were required to select an audience for which they would design an online project and find appropriate solutions for it. Projects included drives for athletic equipment, books and school supplies that were shipped to Kenya.

Seventh-grader Adam Yalcinanahtar said he was finalizing details with middle school administrators for painting a mural on a school corridor wall, while seventh-grader Wesley Norton said he had plans for an outdoor learning center at the middle school “to make it a more relaxing learning environment.”

Although MAD projects aren’t related to life science, Fischer said it helps to develop students’ thinking processes, as well as improvisational and social skills.

“We do it on the side when we have a couple of free days,” Fischer said.

In another area, senior Taylor Noss and junior Alexis Putt were busy tending to infant simulators that are part of the high school’s consumer science curriculum taught by Michelle McGinnis. As part of the course, students are required to spend a weekend feeding, burping and changing diapers on demand to the simulator’s cries. A digital chip in the simulator keeps track of student responses.

“It was a good learning experience,” said Noss, who did the assignment in February. “It made me realize to have kids when you’re ready to have kids and to have help.”

Next door to the high school, the district’s Learning Lab at Division Street House also was open to the public.

The district purchased the property for the high school’s life skills and therapeutic autistic support classes to learn basic life skills like cooking and cleaning. Previously, the district used a small apartment for this until the house with a more realistic setting opened 18 months ago, with most funding provided through a Lower Dauphin Falcon Foundation grant, district community relations coordinator Jim Hazen said.

Instructor Monica Hockenbrock said students in grades 9 through 11 visit the Division Street House once a week for lessons, while students ages 18 through 21 visit twice a week.

“The kids are doing well here,” Hockenbrock said.

Other displays included “The Flipped Classroom,” where seventh-grade pre-algebra students takes notes from homework videos and work on concepts in class, and hybrid math, a secondary-level online course combined with classroom activity.

“If you haven’t been in a school classroom in a few years, the changes are amazing,” Smith said.