It's a classroom experience unlike any we as adults lived but technology will shape your children's learning this year. As technology continues to surge ahead teachers and students are following in its wake, learning all the latest tools and tricks.
"This year is going to be very exciting. We are at that tipping point for new and innovative components to just take off in school," said Dyane Smokorowski, 2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year and Technology Coach to other teachers in the Andover Public Schools.
She says it's not just about the technology, it's about how the tools can help your children learn reading, history, science, math, etc, better.
"Everybody loves Legos!" Smokorowski says as she opens a box labeled Lego Storyteller.
The long beloved blocks may not look like the latest in high technology but they are. A little creativity, a camera and a computer can turn these toys into learning tools. For example, using them to create a comic strip explaining the history of child labor laws.
"Anything is possible!"
And a piece of green felt could soon be helping your student travel around the world.
"This one allows students to be filmed in front of the green screen and then go anywhere in the background," said Smokorowski, demonstrating on an iPad. "So very much like what happens there at the television station, our students can tell their own stories."
And then there all those apps, like one for younger students who can't read and write yet called Doodle Buddy.
"You can use the drawings created in Doodle Buddy to move into something called Chatter Kid," she said. "In Chatter Kid those students drawings can actually talk."
And already they're learning the basics of composition, plot and character development.
"Keeping up with technology in the classroom is a little bit of a challenge," she said. "But I can tell you it's more of a quest for fun."
While much of the technology may seem foreign to adults who grew up without it, students aren't as far ahead in its use as we might think.
"The truth is students don't play around in things like presentation tools for fun. They don't design infographics or.. this is not something that children do a great deal," said Smokorowski.
And each new tool is introduced for what it can teach, not what it can do.
"Technology serves education, not education serving technology. It's not about the tools, it's about the experience," concluded Smokorowski.
That experience can take your student all around the world. Last school year, using Skype to connect with other classrooms, students at Andover 'visited' 130 different schools around the world, learning about biospheres, cultures, languages, and history, among other things.