Above: SWAT Team fifth grader Brendan shows off his badge.
Top: Fifth grader Natalie (center) helps classmates navigate a computer problem as part of an innovative student technology leadership program at Emerald Heights Elementary.
Can’t log in? Accidentally deleted a file?
Call the Emerald Heights Elementary S.W.A.T. Team.
These fourth and fifth graders are more formally called Students Who Assist with Technology (SWAT). Their mission: to help classmates work through little tech setbacks that can result in big frustrations and lost time learning.
“I’ve always been interested in computers,” fourth grader Michael said. “It’s fun to teach other kids how to do it.”
But for teachers, it’s more than fun. One student with a login problem can stop a lesson for the whole class as a teacher helps resolve the issue.
“Without them, it would be super stressful. You're going to have glitches, and you can't solve them all,” said fifth grade teacher Karrie Coombe.
Librarian Kim Marzano created the SWAT team to help students and teachers embrace new computers and programs.
It’s one of the ways Central Kitsap schools have adapted to an influx of technology. The district put new Chromebook laptops in all elementary and middle school classrooms over the past year. Teachers have also started using Google’s suite of education software.
Meeting a New Need
Emerald Heights fourth- and fifth-grade teachers chose two SWAT team members per class. Members were chosen for their tech savvy, personality or leadership skills.
Students like fifth grader Richard jumped at the chance. “I feel that with the tech industry growing … kids should know how to use tech,” he said.
Marzano meets regularly with the team and guides them through a process of sharing then solving common problems.
“I could not do anything with technology before, then I joined this and — BOOM — I was a technician,” said Rosalie, a fifth grader.
Learning from Students
The SWAT Team status empowers the team members to share their ideas. They connect with other students and build leadership skills. Students share new quick keys or other ways of approaching a problem.
“They teach me things all the time,” Marzano said.
Coombe recently shared a history presentation with the class. One of her SWAT team members clipped a useful video from the History channel and imported it into a slide.
“There’s been such a change in technology and I think we have to learn from each other,” Coombe said. ”Without the SWAT team, we couldn't do it, not nearly as well as I do now.”