Teacher spreading the digital word

Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow and Taieri College science teacher Rachel Chisnall uses Paint 3D on Windows 10 to create a shark that swims, to encourage her son to read. Photo: Linda Robertson
Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow and Taieri College science teacher Rachel Chisnall uses Paint 3D on Windows 10 to create a shark that swims, to encourage her son to read. Photo: Linda Robertson
In a world where digital technology is racing ahead in leaps and bounds, Rachel Chisnall is helping New Zealand's ageing teaching force keep up with the latest and greatest tools for the classroom.

The Taieri College science teacher is one of six Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellows nationwide, selected to inspire other teachers and equip them with the know-how to bring their classrooms into the 22nd century.

The new national curriculum prescribes the use of technology from age 5, across almost all subjects, and teachers needed opportunities to upskill and have confidence in the digital environment, Mrs Chisnall said.

The average age of New Zealand teachers was mid-50s, and many had little experience using the sort of technologies that were expected to be woven into the curriculum.

She said her work aimed to answer the question: ''How can we bridge the gap and pass on the necessary digital skills to students?''

During the past four years, she has been to several digital technology professional development seminars around the world, aimed at seeing what was available and how it could be used to boost learning in the classroom.

More recently, she has been speaking about digital technology at conferences and discussing ideas with other teachers about ways to use new technology.

''I see it as not so much about the tools, but the way we use them and why we use them.

''You don't know what you don't know. So seeing people use things in different ways or even bouncing ideas off other teachers can just give you that little moment of, 'Actually, I could do that in my classroom'.

''It's about seeing what a particular programme could do to help engage pupils in learning.''

She said an example of new technology was Paint 3D on Windows 10.

''I'm sitting reading a shark book with my son and I can create a shark to swim through the pages while we read the book.

''If you've got a kid who isn't really into reading, they can have a little shark swimming through the page, and it keeps them engaged.''

She said she could easily use the same programme to create chemistry patterns to apply to her chemistry classes.

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