BURLINGTON, N.C. — Like many of her colleagues, Eastlawn Elementary third grade teacher Denise Crouse knows the ups and down of remote learning.
She has a different computer than her students so sometimes explaining things to them can be difficult.
“I don’t have a Chromebook as a teacher, so it’s difficult sometimes for me to try to explain, ‘Click this, and then this,’ because their screen may look a little bit different,” she said.
That included a program to help those learning to read or learning new vocabulary that featured speak-to-text and text-to-speak.
According to Crouse, “The program was a little glitchy, it took several steps to install on the student’s computer. So if we were in the classroom, it’d be easy for me to just like, go over to their desk, press a few buttons, and it was there, but walking them through it on Zoom and sharing this screen and going back and forth took forever.”
That’s when she noticed a student, DaMari Settles, using text-to-speak on his Chromebook.
“So I messaged him, like in the Zoom chat was like, like, ‘Tell me what’s going on? Why do I see your mouth moving, and then the chat come through,'” she said “And he was like, ‘Oh, it’s a setting on my Chromebook. I’m able to talk in the chat.'”
He taught her how to use it, and she shared it with other teachers like Occupational Therapist Blythe Ardyson.
Ardyson said, “He figured it out because of his curiosity and his creativity. And then he was really brave because he showed not only his teacher, Miss Kraus, but me, someone who he didn’t know, he showed me what he figured out. And I was able to get it out to the rest of the county.”
Demari says he likes exploring what computers can do so much that he thinks that may be what he wants to do in the future. And that doesn’t surprise his teachers at all.
“I absolutely love it when they can teach me something, and they say things in third grade in an eight-year-old way that I, myself, just cannot say in the eight-year-old way, and then other students who are their age are like, ‘Now I get it,'” said Crouse. “It’s great when they can take that leadership role.”
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