Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Mark Hebert

Malta educators making the most of technology


November 21, 2018

Mark Hebert

Malta School Board Trustee Greg Skiff, left, looks on as Malta Middle School Science Teacher Robert Twiggs talks about how he has incorporated online technology into his classroom to be a more effective teacher and maximize classroom time.

Malta Middle School Science Teacher Robert Twiggs rolled in a large screen and laptop computer at last week's Malta School Board meeting and rolled out how technology at the schools is allowing himself and other educators to move into the future of educating the youth.

Twiggs gave his presentation to the Malta School Board during Malta Elementary School Principal Shawn Bleth's monthly report. Principal Bleth said Twiggs, along with many Malta educators, are using Google Chromebooks and Google Suites (an app powered by the search engine) to conduct such things in the classrooms as assessments and tests through the Google Forms.

"I want Mr. Twiggs to show you what (student's) tests look like and what the teachers see, almost instantly, once these students have taken their tests and turned them in," Principal Bleth said.

Twiggs quickly brought up his Google Classroom on the screen which he uses in all the classes he teaches. The example he displayed on the night was a lesson and test from his sixth-grade physical science class and a recent 10-question quiz the class had recently taken. With a quick click of his mouse, Twiggs' presentation opened into the quiz and showed a list of the student's, when they turned them in and how many questions the students got correct or incorrect. The data included in the Google Classroom application included the average, the median and the range of how the class faired on the 8-point quiz. Among the data, Twiggs said that he could tell eight of the students got all the answers correct (without having to actually look at the tests or having to physically grade a single answer) as well as the fact that 17 of the students all answered a certain question incorrectly.

"Just by looking at that, my first question is if there is an issue with my instruction on a certain point," Twiggs said.

The question incase dealt with pressure and density in fluids and Twiggs looked at how the question was worded (only 26-percent of the students answered the question correctly, a much lower rate of success than the rest of the quiz.)

"I immediately got the feedback that something was wrong with my instruction," Twiggs said.

Twiggs said that just as he can initially see the scores of the test once they are submitted, the students can as well.

"They see what they got wrong and they immediately pull out their books and start making corrections," Twiggs said. "There is no laytime. I don't have to take these home, grade them, and then get them back to the students and tell them what went wrong."

Twiggs determined that the wording in question was somewhat confusing and led some to make the wrong choice on the quiz. He said a quick explanation of the theory behind the answer had the majority of the students quickly back on track with a better understanding of the question and answer.

"Within three minutes, we were able to move on to the next topic," Twiggs said. "And the students got it after they looked in their book and we discussed it."

Twiggs said that he spent a part of his summer vacation building the Google Classroom work for his students. All told, Twiggs said the class lesson plans took him about 180-hours to build in the summer, but he says that the legwork was well worth the effort.

"This has really changed my approach on how I do this," Twiggs said of Google Classroom. "Before, I would be up until 10 o'clock getting them all graded so I could get it back to them the next day to see what they got wrong, and what I got wrong, but here that information is instant."

Twiggs said the Google Classroom apps, and the time they have saved him in the classroom, have pushed his class nearly 2-weeks ahead in the lessons than they were last year at the same time.

Lastly, Twiggs said that the Google Classroom data is not only shared between students and teachers, but also the student's parents to keep better tabs on what their children are accomplishing in the classroom.

In other Malta School Board business, Malta Public School Superintendent Kris Kuehn reported that he was asked by the City of Malta about the cornfield being grown on the Malta High School campus as a part of the Farm to Table project.

"There has been a complaint made to the City about the cornfield," Supt. Kuehn said. "But I can tell you one thing, I have had more compliments about that project, just the whole idea of kids doing something productive and providing food, that has been as well received as anything that has gone on here in my entire tenure."

Supt. Kuehn said the that School Garden Committee is looking to get on an upcoming Malta City Council meeting agenda to discuss the matter with the City Council.


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