North Sevier Middle School
Matthew Rhees is an outstanding teacher at North Sevier Middle School who is using technology to enhance student engagement and achievement. This year he has been implementing new technology in his classroom using Chromebooks and or the interactive white board (which is a white board that you can write on, shows videos, facilitates interactive lessons where students are participating interactively with the white board with their Chromebooks). The student’s screens can be displayed as examples etc. Software called Nearpod is used to not only create the lesson but also help Mr. Reese deliver, assess, and improve student learning. This year he was also able to install a “surround sound” voice enhancement system that he knows has made a tremendous difference. Video clips from experts provide students the opportunity to hear lessons taught in different ways.
Before with a math lesson solving linear equations Mr. Rhees spent the time on the white board often with his back to the students because of the need to write on the board... now he is able to move around the classroom freely and interact with the students. He can constantly assess their learning visually. Clearly it is no longer the teacher at the front of the room lecturing... the teacher is teaching by facilitating student learning. Better said, the focus is on learning not teaching.
“It has taken me away from the front of the room into the area of the classroom where I need to be.” Mr. Rhees feels that he spends more time out where the learning is taking place.
Mr. Reese reports that the number one benefit to him personally is improved classroom management. He can constantly monitor student learning, use proximity to students as a strategy to keep them on task, and keep track of students in relation to engagement in his lessons. He reports that he never has to raise his voice; students are focused on learning instead of causing classroom management issues. He reports that he has had ZERO discipline problems this year.
When asked what he would like to share with other teachers who are not integrating technology into their classrooms? Mr. Rhees responded, “They don’t know what they are missing.” “Once they see what technology has done for the attention level of my students they are more willing to give it a try.” Mr. Rhees says, “I would never go back.” Although Mr. Rhees still has use for paper and pencil, traditional white boards and other “older” technology. He says, “It’s important to find balance and use the appropriate technology for the situation.”
Principal Rod Hinck noted, "Mr. Rhees has leveraged the technology resources our school district voted leeway and our school trust lands dollars have provided to amazing levels. The engagement and usage of technology in his class is not only fun for students, but very effective in assisting the educational process."