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Administrators, teachers, and students in the Cottonwood Oak Creek School District embrace MimioVote and MimioTeach

In Arizona’s rural Cottonwood Oak Creek School District, 70 percent of students receive a free or reduced-price lunch. Because many students do not have the resources at home to learn about and interact with technology, the team at Cottonwood wanted to foster improved technology skills, while also promoting student engagement in class.

“What we were looking at was trying to make our students college- and career-ready,” says Kathy Epperson, technology integration coach at Cottonwood. “We wanted to give them opportunities that are unexpected for a small community in the middle of Arizona.” Cottonwood received a large technology grant from Arizona in 2010. To increase technology proficiency, as well as get students more engaged and excited about learning, Epperson turned to two products from Mimio, implementing both MimioVote™ assessment and the MimioTeach™ interactive whiteboard during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years.

MimioVote assessment, which was piloted in low-scoring 2nd, 4th, and 7th-grade classrooms, is a handheld response device for students. Teachers can perform quick assessment checks during a lesson and receive real-time data, or have students submit their answers via the MimioVote handsets during a formal test. Currently, in the 3rd through 8th grade classes, two teachers share a MimioVote system.

When Epperson heard about the MimioTeach interactive whiteboard and how it integrates with MimioVote assessment, she pushed to have a MimioTeach device brought in for every kindergarten through 3rd grade classroom. The MimioTeach device attaches magnetically to a dry erase board or wall, transforming any surface into a fully interactive whiteboard. To ensure that the technology is being used, the principals at each of the district schools do frequent classroom “walkthroughs.”

If a principal notices that a teacher is having a problem with a Mimio product or isn’t using it as extensively as expected, Epperson is brought in to help the teacher master it. This consistent support has eased the path for teachers to embrace Mimio technology, Epperson says. “Mimio provides training, and will send a member of their team to train your staff,” says Epperson. “We also have three half-days each year dedicated to technology training.” Epperson also leads a “tech academy” focused on learning about the Mimio products. She models different methods of using the devices to convey excitement from the administrators to the teachers and, ultimately, to the students about Mimio technology.

Teachers also bring their own Mimio-based lessons and assessments to share with their peers during “tech academy.” As part of their yearly book study, the administrators at Cottonwood were all reading a book that suggested Jeopardy as an interactive game to boost engagement. Epperson used MimioStudio™ software to show how teachers could bring Jeopardy into their classrooms in a 21st-century way. “Everyone was really excited about the sample I produced,” says Epperson. “I knew that if adults were that enthusiastic about an interactive game, the students would be, too!”

Student engagement is on the rise, according to Epperson. Students talk to her about what they are learning via Mimio technology, which shows her that MimioVote and Mimio Teach devices are having an impact. “One of the best aspects of MimioVote and MimioTeach is the portability,” says Epperson. “Two teachers can easily share MimioVote and I can easily move a MimioTeach from one classroom to another.” The integration of the two products is also a benefit to teachers who may be nervous about learning new technology, since the same software runs both.

“Once a teacher has figured out one, it’s easy to transition to another,” says Epperson.

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