Clad in a Drew Brees Saint's jersey, Ty Nguyen looks cool and comfortable amongst his middle school art and journalism students. Their diagrams and notes cover every surface in his classroom, from the desks to the walls. Nguyen teaches art and oversees the production of the school's yearbook at the Killian Middle School in Lewisville, Texas.
Killian is not like most middle schools. Glance into any classroom and you'll see students listening to iPods and typing away on tablets and laptops. As Nguyen explains, "Technology is fully incorporated into the curriculum." Students enjoy the freedom of learning as they choose, on whatever device they prefer, thanks to Killian's BYOT (that's Bring Your Own Technology) initiative. More often that not, students are tuned in, and while one might think it could inhibit sharing and collaboration, Ty's unique learning environment proves the contrary.
"We were able to totally revamp our classroom into this really magical environment where everyone can collaborate wherever without constraints," says Ty. IdeaPaint has helped create a more collaborative, social learning environment by giving his students physical space where their ideas can thrive. While many begin on a screen, they develop and expand in an organic way with the input of classmates on IdeaPaint surfaces.
Layouts for this year's yearbook cover the wall, as do checklists for what needs doing and what has been finished. It's evident that Mr. Nguyen has tapped into his students' most creative and productive sides by bridging the hi-tech and the low. With the end of the school year fast approaching, we can't wait to see their final product.
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