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Member Kudos: Peer-to-Peer Technology, Moran Township School District

2015 Education Excellence Award Recipient

DashBoard, Sept. 16, 2015

The 20 recipients of the 2015 MASB/SET SEG Foundation Education Excellence Awards are some of the greatest examples of unique and innovative public school programs in the state of Michigan. Over the next few months, MASB will share the details of each program from their applications, presented in alphabetical order by district. This week we highlight Peer-to-Peer Technology at Gros Cap School in the Moran Township School District.

Description: Gros Cap School’s Peer-to-Peer Technology Program is designed to utilize our small-school structure to enhance student capabilities in communication, collaboration and technology. Through small-group interactions, students in lower elementary classes acquire the technology skills necessary to manipulate modern technology. Their upper elementary partners enhance their own skills in collaboration and communication through integrated lessons.

Our program pairs our kindergarten class with fifth-grade students, our first-grade class with sixth-grade students and our second grade with third- and fourth-grade students. For an hour each week, teachers share students, mix-up peer groups and facilitate a technology-based lesson. Student leaders teach their younger partners how to successfully and correctly use technology. They begin with the basic skills necessary to use the machines, and then build upon this.

The goal of our program is to have students enter into the next grade possessing the skills necessary to use the modern technologies expected of them independently. We set quarterly objectives for our peer groups to reach and monitor their acquired skills progress throughout the year. These small-groups of early and upper elementary students produce both technologically savvy students and excellent student leaders.

Funding/Resources: Gros Cap School has been very fortunate in that we have one-to-one computers available for all students within our district. This allows all students to use technology on a daily basis within the comforts of their own classroom. Our school board generously purchased these computers through general funds five years ago for approximately $500 each. We currently have 83 laptop computers in circulation.

Four full-time general education teachers along with the assistance of three paraprofessionals find available rooms during Peer-to-Peer Technology time. Student groups are placed in the supervision of an adult, along with one or two other peer groups. During this time, the adults place the objective upon the group, and then allow for the student leaders to take over. When necessary, student leaders are introduced to the lesson and given an opportunity to brainstorm strategies and ideas to use.

It is through the collaboration of our school board, staff and students our program has been implemented effectively and efficiently over the last five years. 

Outreach: Gros Cap School’s Peer-to-Peer Technology Program has become an instrumental strategy for success for all students involved. Students of all ages are gaining communication, creativity, critical thinking skills and collaboration experiences. These real-life experiences allow them to gain the confidence and leadership skills we strive to instill at Gros Cap School.

Communication occurs in every small group activity among the students. Staff communication has improved tremendously. Teachers are communicating about students that may not be within their own classroom for the current year, about the weekly objective, about their plan for next week, etc. Upper elementary teachers know on a first name basis the kindergarten and first-grade students. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and what strategies seem to work best with each student.

Creativity has been incorporated by both teachers and students. Staff needed to become creative with their peer groups and schedules. Projects created at the end of each year by the peer groups are a creative display of all they have mastered throughout the year. Teachers and student leaders have found lessons and strategies to creatively catch and sustain elementary students’ attention each week, while still achieving their overall goal of technology comprehension. Critical thinking skills have increased for our student leaders of each peer group.

They learn how to problem solve and how to interact with younger students in social situations. These upper-elementary students learn teaching and learning techniques to keep the attention of their younger partners. They learn the ability to explain content on a level of understanding relative to their learner. Critical thinking is also fostered within the younger students. They are introduced to concepts and technologies they may have never seen before. Through critical thinking, repetition and hands-on learning they develop skills they will use throughout their lifetime.

Collaboration is the very principle on which our program is built. Students working with other students, sharing what they already know with those younger then them. Teachers working with other teachers, planning, organizing and analyzing ability levels.Collaboration skills are deepened for our upper-elementary students with repeated leadership opportunities year after year. 

Results: Gros Cap School is a small, kindergarten through eighth grade school located along Lake Michigan’s northern shoreline, approximately five miles west of St. Ignace. We are currently servicing 83 total students.

Over the last five years, Gros Cap School has created a technology program designed to initially meet the needs of our kindergarten and first-grade students. Once the first successful year was completed, the programs validity was discussed among our staff. We realized the larger impact this program had on all students involved, not just the younger ones. We had met our primary goal of providing kindergarten and first-grade students with the skills needed to independently operate a laptop computer. Unintentionally, our older “group leaders” gained noticeable social leadership skills that helped them communicate, problem solve and think critically.

Below is a table showing the number of kindergarten and first grade students each year scoring correctly on their pre-, mid- and post-test monitoring. The total number of students in the class is in parentheses next to the school year.

School Year Pre-Test # Correct Mid-Year # Correct Post-Test # Correct
2010-2011 (24) 0 10 24
2011-2012 (22) 1 13 22
2012-2013 (21) 0 9 12
2013-2014 (18) 0 8 18
2014-2015 (16) 0 12  

Below is a sample version of the monitoring assessments we administer to the kindergarten and first grade students. These questions are read aloud by the teachers, and the students must demonstrate mastery of the skill.

  1. Properly carry the computer to your desk.
  2. Open the computer.
  3. Turn on the computer.
  4. Log in to the computer using your assigned username and password.
  5. Use the mousepad and open up the Internet.
  6. Access __________ website (teacher writes website address on the board for students to copy).
  7. Correctly manipulate cursor while accessing website.
  8. Properly close out programs.
  9. Shut down computer.
  10. Close computer and store properly.
  11. Plug in to charger.

Program Coordinator: Amy Lester, Lead Teacher/Technology Coordinator, alester@eup.k12.mi.us

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