The Ottumwa Courier

October 31, 2013

ActivTables showing students how to work together

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Technology is shaping the way we go about our everyday lives like never before, even in the classroom.

Liberty Elementary School, which opened its doors to students for the first time in August, is meeting the technology craze head on. With the help of Promethean ActivTables, students are learning how to cooperate with each other in a group setting while playing interactive teaching games.

The tables look somewhat like air hockey tables and have a touch screen that resembles an oversize iPad. Different applications and games give the students extra practice with math problems and spelling, all while they are working in a group trying to find the right answers. Once they come up with an answer, all of them have to agree before they can exit and go to the next game.

Although the ActivTables have plenty of instructions and help buttons, teachers and students have to be trained to understand how to use them. Kristi Ridgway, who was recently given the title Technology Coach, is in charge of explaining how to use the tables.

Sometimes it isn’t the students who need to be taught how to use the tables, according to Ridgway.

“It’s harder to teach the teachers than the students sometimes,” she said. “The kids aren’t scared; they just jump in and go.”

Although the tables can be used to help teach the students how to do a specific math problem or how to spell a word correctly, their main purpose is to show children how to work in a group. The collaboration the students have to use with each other is a wonderful teaching tool, and, according to Ridgway, is the big thing she sees when the students use them.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh