by Lindsey Risner, Echo Community Manager
Recently the Echo team has decided to do some learning around elementary. Ultimately our goal is to learn more about what PBL looks like in the elementary setting and how Echo can support student learning at the elementary level. Our elementary journey started with a visit to Bells Elementary in Ruffin, South Carolina.
Bells Elementary is one of New Tech Network’s only elementary schools to implement the use Echo grades 1-5 with students everyday. In present-day elementary classrooms it is very common to see students, grades K and up, using technology. We especially see them using applications for practice of foundational skills in both reading and math. What most people don’t know about students this age is that they are capable of so much more. As we saw at Bells, students this age are also able to navigate and use a learning management system to engage in deeper learning.
At Bells Elementary, the entire teaching staff has committed to using Echo as their learning management system. This means they use Echo to plan, build, and create projects throughout the school year as well as engage students in deeper learning by having them login to Echo daily to view agendas, class work, and project resources. Each grade level team uses Echo’s Master and Derivative course feature, allowing teachers to plan together, share the workload, and stay on the same page which fosters a culture of connectedness across the teaching staff and the students.
Now, I know what you are thinking, “This sounds complicated for little people”. Well guess what? It doesn’t have to be. Yes, Echo is a robust learning management system that was built for secondary learning in mind, but it can also be very simple and easy to use for not only our younger students, but also for our teachers who may label themselves and not being so tech savvy. At Bells, the teaching staff focuses on the, “less is more”, approach. They use NTN’s project planning toolkit to build each project. They then turn to Echo to build out each day of the project using the agenda tool. Teachers then use Echo’s easy organization to create a project folder where they upload and house all project resources. If they want students to have access to a resource, a website, an activity or anything else, they simply link it into their agenda. This allow students to have quick and easy access to everything they need in one place and allows teachers to have all project materials and resources in one place for easy use from year to year.
4th grade teacher, Amy Cook, takes Echo implementation one step further allowing her students to have control over of their learning by giving them resources and assignments for the week and letting them work through the material at their own pace. Students show agency by asking for support when they need it resulting in Mrs. Cook giving needs based workshops in a small group setting.
Bells elementary is NTN’s pioneer when it comes to using Echo in the elementary classroom. If you are an elementary teacher you can be too! Just remember to have high expectations for what your students are capable of doing, be brave, and jump in!
Click the links below to learn more about how to make student friendly agendas, using shared master courses to collaborate, easy to use activity types, and more to help get you started.