East teacher in competition for new classroom technology

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Brianna Lennon is competing to bring her classroom at East into the twenty-first century by procuring iPads that students can use throughout the school year to aid and advance their understanding and experience with foreign language.

Lennon, is a Cranston resident who attended Woodridge, Bain and graduated from Cranston West in the Class of 2009. She graduated from URI with a dual major in elementary education and Spanish.

This is Lennon's second year at East and her fifth in the district, working previously at Stadium and Glen Hills.

According to the contest rules, she can receive 20 iPads as long as she has between 10-20 in her classroom.

"The iPads will be an invaluable tool for the students. They will not replace the textbooks we use, but will be a wonderful supplement. Students can take a placement test, practice translating, read, write, listen and speak, as there is a wide variety of topic grammar available," said Lennon.

Spanish is still considered to be a language of the future, said Lennon. "Behind the Asian population, Spanish is the second fastest population in schools," she said.

Students need that extra edge that a foreign language provides, Lennon believes.

"Currently, the amount of technology available to classrooms is lacking. With a large population of students, there is only one computer lab in the library that is open for teachers to bring their students to during class time. My classroom, along with others, is in a separate building away from the main building where the computer lab is located. The library's computer lab hosts other classrooms that take priority for scheduled district-wide testing. This makes it a challenge to incorporate technology into my foreign language classroom. With the class size at maximum capacity, we often rely on students' cell phones. Problems occur when students do not own a cell phone, their battery is dead, they misuse the device for other personal reasons, or the WIFI connection is lost and students have to use their data which they don't always have available," said Lennon.

Having technology available in the classroom will enhance students' academic success in foreign language. If selected, the students at Cranston High School East would be able to use the iPads for foreign language practice on Duolingo and Quizlet, research projects, and FaceTime or video chats with Spanish-speaking classrooms in other countries around the world. These are only a few of the learning strategies that the students would have experience with if given this opportunity. Not only would this contest benefit the students in her classroom, but also the other foreign language teachers and their students. All student and teacher accounts will be linked, so Lennon can easily monitor the activity level of each student, when they log on, and which lessons they participate in.

"There's an app where the students can earn extra credit and it actually will allow me to differentiate the levels of student comprehension and adjust accordingly," she said.

Lennon is grateful for the support she has gotten from East.

"They have been very enthusiastic in this. They are always grateful when we think out of the box and appreciate when we try to bring in new technology," she said.

Lennon really enjoys hearing the feedback from students when they use the app on their phones.

"They are techno-able. They know, learn and absorb technology like sponges. The students would simply thrive with the additional iPads," she said.

To vote for Lennon and her classroom, go to contests.duolingo.com/entry/c9c46401. The deadline to vote is Sept. 3.

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