Farragut Intermediate School has a new technology teacher to help the school reach its goals.
Kristi Shedden, FIS’s first technology teacher, returned to the classroom to teach fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students how to operate technological devices such as Smart phones and computers; how to use them responsibly and safely; how to solve problems and research topics and how to be creative on the devices.
“I have the privilege to teach every child in this school,” Shedden said.
In searching for a technology teacher, FIS Principal Reggie Mosley said the school’s goal was to make sure the class was in alignment with the overall Knox County goals.
“That is to make sure kids are career and college ready when they finish high school,” Mosley said. “We just don’t wait until kids get to that high school level, graduates and then is ready for the real world because there’s a gap if you do that.
“We try to prepare our kids right now at the elementary stage with technology, knowing how to use technology in the right way, which means we have to talk about digital citizenship, the safe way we behave online,” he said. “Then, we progress to the point where we teach kids how to type documents, how to do research and find information, how to save information on a thumb drive or disc.”
Seneca Hill, a fourth-grader, said she learned from classes that she should not talk on her cell phone when she is around friends “because it’s not nice.”
To be safe using electronic devices, Seneca said she learned “don’t be on phone when walking on the street so you know what’s going on.
“You should be aware of your surroundings,” she said. “On the computer, you need to make sure a site is safe and if it asks for your name, you need to ask an adult before you do anything to make sure it’s safe and doesn’t contact you and try to hack you.”
Fourth-grader Sarah Hall said she learned “you shouldn’t say anything bad about people on the Internet. You shouldn’t be rude.
“When playing games, don’t give your real name,” Sarah said.
Shedden earned her master’s degree in instructional technology in 2013 from Lipscomb University in Nashville. ”I had an opportunity to work as a personal learning environment specialist for Knox County one summer, and Lisa Stiles, the assistant principal here, and I were on the same team for that program,” she said.
Before coming to FIS, Shedden taught at Farragut Primary School for six years, was an early literacy coach at Dogwood Elementary, and then was a district-level Response to Instruc-tion and Intervention [RTI2] coach with Knox County Schools for the past three years. In that role, she supported teachers, administrators and students at a variety of schools, mostly elementary, she said.
“[Stiles] knew that I was already interested in technology, so last year when Farragut Intermediate was able to create this [instructional technology teaching position] as a certified position, I had a conversation with Ms. Stiles,” Shedden said.
Previously, she said a classified person helped with open access and students could work on devices, but there weren’t actual instructional lessons. Shedden, who is certified to teach technology, talked with Stiles and found a door had opened for her at FIS.
“It was more like a lab,” Shedden said. “So, Mr. Mosley, the administration and the teachers talked about the need for kids to be successful and be prepared for college and careers.
“They identified technology was one of the areas that probably could use some improvement or be focused on, so one of the positions was changed and they were able to add this position as a certified position,” she said.
“We saw what’s trending,” Mosley said.
“We tried to keep up with what’s happening across the country, what other school districts are doing to help their kids achieve and be prepared for the next level.
“Other schools across the country are preparing their kids at an earlier age how to use technology, integrating technology in the classroom setting and use ongoing training of teachers on how to use that technology in such a way we are enhancing and growing our students at the same time,” he said. “That’s what led us to move in that direction.”
And, Mosley said the classes are working great.
Mosley said the school is not a one-to-one school, meaning it does not have a device for every child in the building, but he said the school’s ultimate goal is to “create an atmosphere where we can have a two-to-one ratio. You have two kids per a device.
”That comes with fundraising,” he said. “We have done that over the last three years.
“I think we have spent close to $500,000 just in a three-year window just to make sure we have those devices in our school.”