Students dive finger-first into technology

By Chris Vand Tuyl/The Commercial Appeal

WALLS — In her never-ending job of keeping kids technology savvy, Walls Elementary fifth-grade teacher Shauna Gardner finds herself checking out a certain item in the school as much as possible.

And it is a resource that’s often in high demand.

“We have one Netbook cart in the school,” said Gardner, “It has 26 laptops, so each student can have their own personal computer to do research.”

On one particular day, Gardner’s students — 25 of them, to be exact — were researching different ecosystems.

“We see if (the computers are) available and then we plan projects around them,” Gardner said. “We use them for a variety of reasons. They’re pretty good at it.”

With a letter grade in science hanging on every keystroke, 10-year-old Zach Bryant is proud that he’s gotten more comfortable with the computer over the years.

“In first grade, my teacher set up games on her website to help us do science, math and all the other subjects,” he said. “It makes me more interested.”

Gardner, who had the highest QDI (state test) scores in the fifth grade in her school last year, sees one definite benefit of the project.

“We can’t go to the rain forest or go to the tundra,” she said, “so they can look it up, and they can see the plants, animals and what the temperature will be. One thing is they have to draw what they would wear in that ecosystem.

“They’re making that connection — we’re visiting places we wouldn’t be able to without the Netbooks.”

And, at the end of the day, students are giving their teachers a run for their money in the technology department.

“They get it probably more than I do,” Gardner said. “They’re good at technology. They can navigate better than me.”