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Education Nation: Technology and innovation enhancing Utah education

By Nadine Wimmer | Posted - Sep. 29, 2011 at 11:02 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — All week, as part of Education Nation, KSL News has highlighted some of the issues facing our schools. Now we want to show you how Utah teachers are using technology, innovation and basic creativity to get their students fully engaged in learning.

Ms. Nevarez uses technology to engage parents in what goes on in her sixth-grade Westfield Elementary School class. She blogs, tweets and podcasts the day's activities and assignments.

"It kind of shows them, this is what we're doing in public education," she explained.

No more lost notes home. No reason for parents to be out of the loop.

"I feel more involved in the classroom when I have more access to the teacher," said Cindy Cloward, whose child attends the Alpine school.

Now Nevarez is bringing the rest of the faculty on board.

Many other educators across the state are also embracing technology. At Kearns High School a 3-year grant has equipped every student with an iPod and every teacher has an iPad.

"I like (the iPad) but, partly because I'm at the veteran end, it's very new to me," Mrs. Drummond said.

And it's all high tech at the Itineris charter school. The hardcore science program on the Salt Lake Community College campus allows high school students to study biotechnology, earn college credit, and work directly with companies that could potentially hire them.

"(They're) understanding why they need ot know math and science, and engaging in the business world at the same time," said Cynthia Bioteau, president of Salt Lake Community College.

Other innovations rely on low-tech items, like a sticky pad student tracking system that Salt Lake City School District's Edison Elementary School uses to show students' progress. There's also a program at McPolin Elementary School in Park City that maximizes learning time by keeping entire classes with the same teacher for two years instead of one.

Escalate Elementary School illustrates a growing effort to make education more relevant than ever. In Ms. Pulley's class, everyone has a checking account and a job they had to apply for.

As part of KSL's commitment to education, we rewarded some Utah students who have helped younger kids in their town double their reading scores.

Chopper 5 flew Cosmo to Delta Elementary School to celebrate. Some of the students there have doubled their state reading scores with the help of high school tutors and the Latinos in Action program.

For the first time in this rural area, most of these Latinos are applying to college. So to help them, our Reader Reward partnership provided vouchers to pay for their SAT college entrance exams.

Nominate your school for a reward at www.readtoday.com.

Email: dwimmer@ksl.com

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Nadine Wimmer

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