Technology and PBL at Miller Middle School

The use of Chromebooks at Miller began during the spring of 2014 with the science classes. They were the pilot group of teachers and students who used the devices to dive into their learning. The following fall all students and teachers had the use of these devices in every class. Teachers learned how to transform their classroom environment into places of deeper learning through various activities such as Nearpod, Kahoot and No Red Ink. As time progressed, Google created Classroom and teachers made this their main storehouse of classwork. Students and parents were able to access the assignments, and in some cases, the lessons that were provided in the physical classroom through this Google platform. Programs were added to enable students to interact digitally with more academic rigor such as iXL, MobyMax and Lexia. All of this construction of technology has allowed teachers and students to be able to reach beyond the classroom walls and into the community.

Students and teachers at Miller are in their second full year of Project Based Learning (PBL). Through PBL, students design and create an authentic artifact that connects with their community. Often times, teachers invite experts into the building to speak to them or in a few cases, students have travelled to places in the community such as the Iowa Veterans Home or the Marshall County Historical Society to collect information. Students have created layouts for cities using recycled materials. Others have created roller coasters that work using the knowledge gained from physics. Students have impacted the environment with their location of specific bird houses. In all ways, students are using the knowledge that they have gained from PBL to improve Marshalltown and connect with our rich history.  

In short, PBL has been a great experience for many of Miller’s students. However, it would not have been possible without the Chromebooks. The devices allow students to complete research, collaborate on documents with classmates, create videos for presentations, organize their materials, and use rubrics when evaluating their work. As a result, students are engaged in learning in a real-world environment using natural means. In conclusion, Chromebooks are the tool that enable Miller students to be 21st Century learners.  

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Paula Johnson is an instructional coach at Miller Middle School.