LANSING – Four seventh-graders from L’Anse Creuse Middle School
East have showed off their technology skills and learned more about the everyday
workings of the Capitol at a student technology showcase.
“It was interesting to see what they do and be able to go where these people go. We got to teach these top people. I never even thought I’d ever meet them,” said 12-year-old Rachael Rohrig.
She attended the third annual Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning Student Technology Showcase along with students from 97 other schools, including Beacon Elementary School of Harper Woods, Macomb Park Academy of Warren and Messmore Elementary of Sterling Heights.
They got a chance to meet legislators, including Rep. Daniel Acciavatti, R-Chesterfield Township, and Sen. Alan Sanborn, R-Richmond Township.
“They make calls and important decisions. It sounds like they have to vote about a lot of important stuff,” said Chris Rettich of L’Anse Creuse. “Sometimes it sounds like being a senator is fun, but when you actually see it, it seems like a lot of hard work.”
Lawmakers were equally impressed by the students’ skills demonstrating the software program Curriculum Alignment Toolbox Solutions, which helps them study for the Michigan Education Assessment Program and learn science.
“When I was in seventh grade, we didn’t have computers in the classroom, and when I went out of high school, I had to go out of my way to learn to type,” said Acciavatti.
“This shows me that the technology is here. Now we just have to make sure everyone gets it. L’Anse Creuse is ahead of the curve, but a lot of schools are dragging behind. We have to make sure we can compete with other countries,” Acciavatti said.
Robert Kakos, a learning technology director at Wayne State University who helped develop the CAT software, said the key thing is that students become independent learners, for instance by making their own lesson plan for subjects they find difficult.
Sixth-grade science teacher Barbara Frankowiak of L’Anse Creuse said, “It’s a fun way for them to learn, and they’ll be able to take what they know and use it for other things, like using the dictionary.” She said the program also lets parents find background information to help their children with homework.
Some proud and excited parents were also at the showcase. Sue Esquibel accompanied her daughter, fourth-grader Kacey, from Sparlingville Elementary School in Kimball.
“I’ve never visited the Capitol and it was a cool thing for the both of us to do. It’s like a vacation,” she said, adding that her daughter had been excited about going to the Capitol, but also a little concerned.
“She likes perfect attendance and was afraid to miss school for a day. I had to explain to her that this counts as a school day,” Esquibel said with a laugh.
Asked why she thought she was chosen to represent her school at the showcase, 9-year-old Kacey Esquibel, said, “I didn’t get in trouble. I didn’t talk a lot. And I only had a couple of problems with the program.”
Kacey, who displayed a genealogy poster with time lines and scanned pictures of her family, said she may want to become a technology teacher when she grows up.
“There are lots of things to do on the computer and it helps to make things interesting,” she said. “Technology is cool!”
Her teacher, Mary Popa, said the school tries to integrate math, social science and history into technology classes and that students often learn faster than their teachers.
“They just pick it up so fast it amazes their teachers,” Popa said. “When you teach, you’re always concerned if they pick it up. But with the computers and the pictures, they do everything instead of seeing their do it on the board.”
Kakos from Wayne State said students are enthusiastic about the software. “Kids will fight to get on the computer and work. When was the last time you saw students fighting over reading a chapter of a book?
“The computer gives students immediate feedback, and kids thrive on that. A computer is non-judgmental and doesn’t say ‘that’s a stupid question,’ and the child is always in control so the kids can take ownership of their own education,” Kakos said.
© 2003, Capital News Service, Michigan State University
School of Journalism
© 2003, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism