State of Education: Theme-based learning and the MimioTeach
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"Each year we have a different theme that we explore and it is interdisciplinary so you explore that same theme throughout the different disciplines,” said Melissa Verga, director of the Saratoga Independent School.
Some projects this year are under the “Relationships, Environment, and Change” theme. It's an alternative approach to typical learning.
"We don't necessarily have grades - we have mixed age classes, so we have a different variety of people in our classes," said Cole McMordie, a student.
“We like it because we get to see different kids in different grades and we get to have a different experience than other people,” said Effie Levenson, another student at the Saratoga Independent School.
There's also a playground area with minimal play equipment, which puts more on focus on imagination and developmental thinking during recess time.
There's something else that has been causing some excitement in schools: a new technology system that allows teachers to turn a white board into a smart board - something called the MimioTeach.
"What the MimioTeach allows us to do is transform any white board into an interactive white board by hooking this piece onto the white board and utilizing a laptop,” said Verga.
Any lessons can be projected onto the board with a reflector piece. As most schools across New York State are very budget-conscious, the MimioTeach is becoming a popular item. A typical model goes for about $800 dollars, less an elaborate Smart Board. It’s another reason why technology is both exciting and challenging
"I would say the challenging part is budgetary, but we are always looking for creative solutions to be able to acquire new technology for the school," said Verga.
The lesson here is theme-based learning with mixed age classes, while keeping technology down to a science. At the Saratoga Independent School it’s a continued goal for students and teachers.