Remote learning has opened many doors to the use of technology for education, and Kyle Jarrell, sixth-grade science and social studies teacher at Buffalo United Charter School (BUCS), is leveraging multiple platforms for this purpose.
Mr. Jarrell utilizes tools like Google Meets in addition to others. He uses Nearpod for virtual field trips to different countries, which is an interactive slideshow that can be teacher- or student-led. Among others fun platforms he uses with his students, he uses BreakoutEDU for escape rooms that challenge students’ critical thinking skills.
“Mr. Jarrell has done an outstanding job,” said Teresa Gerchman, principal at BUCS. “He has assisted other teachers in getting their classrooms up and running and has utilized all the tools and has sought out others.”
He has a passion for technology, so it comes as no surprise that he completed the Educational Technology Specialist master’s program at State University of New York (SUNY) Oneonta this May. “We are teaching some of the first students who are considered digital natives,” said Mr. Jarrell. “This means they have used technology since they were toddlers. It is so important for us as educators to properly teach students how to use technology in the classroom. Teaching students how to use technology prepares them as they advance in their academic journey and beyond.”
His favorite part of remote learning has been seeing his students and fellow teachers embrace and effectively use technology. “Through remote learning, I feel all teachers were able to find a valuable resource using technology that they can now embed into their classes to help increase student engagement,” he reflected.
One of the activities Mr. Jarrell enjoys is the virtual field trips. He always tries to do something fun during Google Meets to keep students engaged, and his field trips have been a hit with his students. Some of the places he has virtually taken his students include China, Italy, France, Brazil, Cuba, and different landmarks in the US.
His students are welcomed on the virtual Jarrell Airways flight where they find Pilot Jarrell dressed in a hat, sunglasses, and a headset. He tries to look the part, though he reflects that many of his students still ask to see his credentials each flight. Prior to take-off, one of his teammates, who doubles as a flight attendant, reads the pre-flight rules.
Mr. Jarrell then plays a video from a travel blogger based on the country they’re visiting. The class “takes off” using Google Earth from the school to their destination and then log in to Nearpod. They are asked various questions about the country, followed by virtual tours of a handful of landmarks. Students are also able to learn things about the country, including religion, culture, food, government, economy, and the national anthem. After they complete more questions and a compare the destination to the US using a Venn diagram, they board the Jarrell Airways flight back home. They then discuss the visit once they land.
“My favorite part about these field trips is how excited the students are to see unfamiliar places and the aspects of each country they find interesting,” said Mr. Jarrell. “For example, when we went to Cuba, students were fascinated by the cars! They could not believe the style and the colors they were seeing. They could not believe they were seeing a pink car. This was just one of many times students were stunned by what they saw. They were all great learning experiences for students.”
He cares about technology in the classroom and engaging his students. Because of his experience with remote learning, he received a scholarship to The Modern Classroom Project. Through this program, he will receive a mentor to help create the ultimate blended learning classroom. “The goal is to create engaging lessons through a blended-learning model that can meet the needs of students and allow students to move at their own pace,” said Mr. Jarrell.
Keep up the incredible work, Mr. Jarrell!