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Walden Magazine // Jan 01, 2013

Making a Difference: The Smart Classroom

Chris Hendricks ’11 layered his fifth-grade classroom with technology to improve participation and learning outcomes.

Chris Hendricks

Chris Hendricks. Photo credit: Peter Howard.

Chris Hendricks ’11 has made learning a 24/7, engaging, and exciting real-world experience for his students. The fifth-grade teacher at Glenbrook Elementary School in Pulaski, Wis., uses netbooks, iPads, a Smart Board, a document camera, and Google Docs to teach. “The classes I took at Walden helped me relate with the world my students will someday work in,” he says. “I firmly believe each student has unique skill sets that allow them to be successful.” In April, Hendricks received a 2012 Golden Apple Award for outstanding teaching from the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s Partners in Education program in part for creating this technology-laden learning environment. Here, the MS in Education graduate explains the value of these technologies.


The digital whiteboard makes computer images larger and more lifelike. It also gives students a place to interact on “virtual field trips,” use a camera to zoom in on science samples, and collaborate on math problems.


Netbooks, paired with Google Docs, allow students to access documents, presentations, and websites and share them with other students. As a result, they are more involved in the curriculum and their self-esteem goes up. This technology combination also leads to self-directed and continuous learning: “Kids can collaborate together after school,” Hendricks explains.


iPads provide an array of options for creating digital presentations and projects, engaging with ebooks, and learning through apps. They make learning new skills fun and more student-centered: Children can choose what they want to learn, create, or play.