SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Teachers face a challenging task of instructing students using methods relevant to their world.

Many children today are first exposed to technology when they are toddlers playing games on their parents’ cell phones. By the time children enter kindergarten, they have used numerous digital devices and been attracted to the actions, sounds, and graphics of technology. This fast-paced dynamic invites professional development opportunities for teachers to learn to teach and instruct using similar methods.

Teachers face a challenging task of instructing students using methods relevant to their world. Many children today are first exposed to technology when they are toddlers playing games on their parents’ cell phones. By the time children enter kindergarten, they have used numerous digital devices and been attracted to the actions, sounds, and graphics of technology. This fast-paced dynamic invites professional development opportunities for teachers to learn to teach and instruct using similar methods.

An educational program called “eMINTS” was designed by the University of Missouri to train educators to focus on technology in the classroom. The acronym for eMINTS, “enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies” has now become synonymous with innovative teaching that has expanded to Nichols-Lawson Middle School (NLMS).

Last year NLMS was one of 56 schools in Alabama, Utah, and Arkansas that took part in an expansion project to learn the teaching practices of eMINTS. The program seeks to implement college and career readiness standards through 21st century classrooms. eMINTS provided a group of seventh grade teachers and all math teachers at NLMS with over 160 hours of high quality professional development to help drive students’ digital learning. The program also provided a chromebook for every seventh grade student.

At the administrative level, NLMS principal Gary Rivers has received 24 hours of eMINTS professional development training. The school has eleven teachers who have earned the eMINTS certified teacher status with 160 hours of training: Karen Slaten, Jenny Martin, Beth Steers, Gay Coley, LeAnna Holmes, Natalie Hubbard, Emily McLain, Jaclyn Robinson, Chad Wilkinson, Melissa Lambert, and Jamie Henderson. Two teachers at NLMS, Cecelia Dean and Jennifer Donahoo, along with Jaclyn Rivers at Pinecrest Elementary, have become certified trainers with 220 hours of professional development. Additionally, Erick Blackerby of NLMS and Greg Lane of Sylacauga High School, will complete their final certification after finishing year one in the foundation course.

These teaching professionals are using the skills mastered through eMINTS to enhance classroom instruction with high quality lesson design, community of learners, authentic learning, and all powered by technology. In a technologically-driven society, these skills will help teachers prepare students for success in college and the workforce.

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