PRESTONSBURG – Technology and learning was the focus at the Floyd County Library on Wednesday. The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative mobile learning lab rolled into town Wednesday afternoon. KVEC is part of the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative. In 2013, KVEC and 17 member school districts in rural southeastern Kentucky were awarded a highly competitive Race to the Top Grant by the U.S. Department of Education. With this support, KVEC launched its Appalachian Renaissance Initiative (ARI) to share resources across the region, personalize student and professional learning, develop leaders, revitalize local communities, and prepare students for next-generation college and career paths.
Free activities like the mobile learning lab is vital for young people because it could possibly create that spark at an early age to engage an individual in the learning process. Learning, especially in elementary and middle school not only needs to of course teach the curriculum, but the material should be presented in a way that makes learning fun. If they are not having fun, or interested most of the time they are not engaged. Being mindful of what is being said and staying focused in the classroom is difficult. KVEC and ARI grants are providing teachers with funds to create new and exciting lessons to present to their classrooms. Students are having fun and learning. Eastern Kentucky and KVEC won the Race to the Top District grant not because the county is economically weak. They won the grant based on the strength of their application and most importantly the performance of the students. The focus of the grant is the Quality of Professional Development for educators and the personalized learning opportunities available for students. Eastern Kentucky is no longer a low performing school district. Eastern Kentucky has schools that employee top educators with advanced degrees. Thanks to the determination of Floyd County Superintendent Henry Webb to take Floyd County Schools to the top, the Floyd County school district has taken advantage of many of the opportunities to obtain ARI grants to design lessons students are interested in. Eastern Kentucky Educators are in the process of writing curriculum that will be used across the nation.
The mobile learning lab came to the Floyd County Library and conducted a free fun learning workshop on Wednesday. The activities at the library were geared toward elementary and middle school students. Dr. Katrina Slone, STEM Lead and Dr. Will Kayatin Ph. D. set up various centers where students were able to do hands on learning. Students took turns going to the centers: Google Cardboard-Virtual Reality goggles, Robot Rodeo, Driving Dash Robots, Build a Scribblebot, Snap Circuits, Pro Bots, Robot Mouse, Blue Bot and Bee Bot Treasure Hunt.
Students were having fun learning. The students in attendance were actively engaged in the learning process and excited to be playing with robots, circuits and being able to build and control them remotely. The educators in KVEC are creating programs and curriculum where young people in our region can have the knowledge to have gainful employment before they graduate High School.
“We want our students to be college and career ready and in order for that to happen, they need to learn these 21st Century skills now,” said Kayatin.
KVEC is helping students build the skills, habits and experiences to be successful in a digital economy and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to help build that new economy at home in Eastern Kentucky.
KVEC is allowing and promoting the mindset of collaboration not only among teachers in the same school, but teachers in different counties, and different states. If one teacher is doing something that is working in the classroom, sharing ideas and lessons that work and create excitement in the classroom is the right thing to do.
“We enjoy coming to the various programs offered by the Floyd County Public Library,” said Jamie Duncan. “My son Cooper is homeschooled so I really try to take advantage of the opportunities they offer at the library. He is having a blast and learning at the same time.”
For more information on the Floyd County Public Library, call (606) 886-2981.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at (606) 886-8509.