Student-run program works to transform classrooms

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Julia John

The Talon Tech class offered at Prosper High aims to help guide teachers and students through lessons aimed to build the skill sets of classes. The class is losing members and recognition, however, is going strong is re-forming Prosper’s teaching strategies. “Talon Tech shows teachers how to use technology tools in innovative and efficient ways,” teacher Erin Miller said. “They give teachers ideas on how we can use technology to help our students in the best way possible.”

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A student-run-class, now in its third year, continues its aim to help teachers better understand the learning curves and attentional details that their students need to work at their best.

Instructional technology coach and class leader Joshua Watkins described their primary objective:

“These are students who help train your teachers on how to use digital tools in the classroom,” Watkins said. “My goal is to have a group like this at every high school, to be able to impact and form the district’s education.” 

The class, Talon-Tech, works on building resources and digital sites that both teachers and students can use in the classroom to better build skillsets and knowledge about various topics. 

“There are a bunch of lessons for students and teachers about topics that they will need in their everyday lives,” junior Josh Smith said.

During the program, teachers learn how to use various websites to help further advance their lecturing and teaching for the benefit of each student’s education. 

“The lessons will help with the procedure and preparation,” Smith said. “It also has examples of what everything will look like through various student examples, as well as final drafts.”

This means the faculty can spend less time grading and preparing, and instead, focus on guiding students through the program to better improve each skillset performance. 

“Talon Tech has changed the role of teachers and students. Students are put into a more self-driven role, and teachers can have a more laid back role to teachers providing input when necessary,” Senior Moriah Emrick said. “My favorite moment during the program was talking to teachers about how students want to learn.”

The process only introduces skill-based content, and as a result, the students would have to find the information on their own and implement it into the project. The class, however, is not aiming to advance the knowledge shared in the classroom, but rather the way that the information is shared and taught. 

“There’s a reflection at the end of each lesson, which will give an overview of the skills that the students applied and learned,” Smith said.

This way, the teachers will be able to have faster-grading turnarounds and be able to specifically view each student’s work to be able to attentively provide feedback for each situation. Because of this, both Watkins and Smith said they believe that the time in the classroom will become more valuable as each student will be able to improve on skill sets where they are not comfortable. 

“Talon Tech shows teachers how to use technology tools in innovative and efficient ways,” teacher Erin Miller said. “They give teachers ideas on how we can use technology to help our students in the best way possible. I think they’re re-shaping the way we provide education because they are giving us information from the perspective of a student and helping us create lessons that students would enjoy and find beneficial.”

In the class, instead of being graded by the abundance of projects and worksheets, students are graded on their reflections and progressions toward their goals. This aims in expanding the skill sets of the class’s students, too, which develops habits that will help the students reach their goals more effectively.

“A lot of their grading is done by themselves on how they feel like they’ve been progressing towards their goal,” Watkins said. “My job is to guide them, just like a manager.”

Even though students and teachers alike are enjoying the benefits and introduction to the class, the certified CTE course has been struggling to find willing participants. 

“The growth that we have been predicting has been moving backward,” Watkins said.  “We are struggling to get our name out. With the crazy growth that we have seen here in Prosper, it’s hard to get ‘notarized’ out there.”

Students that want to be a part of the course have to go through an application process to be able to prove their dedication to various tasks and scenarios. However, they do not need technological expertise. 

“You need to have two teachers recommend you for the program based on our five core values. None of them are technological, and the student needs to be reliable and respectful,” Watkins said. “They need to be able to do what they are supposed to do when no one is watching.”

Miller also wants to see the program expand.

“Talon Tech would be a great program across the district. Teachers don’t always have time to explore new technology tools or find new ways to use them in the classroom,” Miller said. “The Talon Tech program not only shows teachers how to use the technology but gives us great ideas on how we can use them with our students.”

Edited for clarification, Feb. 20, for grammar.