What does the 21st Century classroom look like? That’s the question educators and exhibitors asked this week at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in San Diego, California. TIME FOR KIDS exhibited at the summit—and connected with innovative educators to learn how they are using technology to bring the world to students.

screen480x480On many levels, the modern classroom isn’t all that different from classrooms of previous generations. Teachers are as eager as ever to connect with students, share knowledge, teach skills and motivate learners. Students continue to be hungry for information. What is different today is the degree to which technology allows educators to tap into students’ curiosity. The hi-tech classroom gives teachers the tools they need to prepare students to meet the demands of a changing world while offering students unlimited opportunities to be creative in their classrooms and connected to the world outside of their schools.

Janice Killelea, a third-grade teacher from Mineola, NY, shared her strategies for using technology to foster interest and engagement in nonfiction reading. Two years ago, Killelea’s school adopted a one-to-one iPad program, which expanded the teaching tools available to her. In her presentation, Killelea demonstrated how she and her students have embraced technology. She said that in the past two years, she has seen tremendous growth in what her students can do with technology. In addition to connecting with content in deeper ways, her students have become adept at reading nonfiction text and synthesizing information presented in a variety of mediums—a critical element of the Common Core State Standards.

In her session, Killelea presented examples of her students’ work created using classroom technology. Students of varying abilities created engaging videos and presentations on their iPads. They digested, shared and discussed issues with each other. They examined language and investigated topics. “Kids are digital natives,” Killelea says, “they naturally know how to find answers to questions.” It is up to us to give students the resources they need to stay interested, engaged, and connected so that they reach their goals.

For almost 20 years, it’s been our mission at TIME FOR KIDS to engage students and give them a window to the world. In October, we launched the TIME For Kids Classroom App, a dynamic teaching tool that brings exclusive current events content to life through interactive images, videos, animations, polls, maps and more. As we conducted research for the apps, we met with many inspiring teachers who are at the forefront of education. They shared their strategies for incorporating technology into daily lessons and offered ideas for how to use tablets to engage and instruct students.

The EdTech Teacher iPad Summit reinforced the idea that teachers’ core dedication is to effective—and engaging—learning, no matter how technology is changing the tools they use. Killelea’s session explored ways iPad apps are increasing learning opportunities, especially when using nonfiction texts. The apps help motivate students to showcase their learning in creative ways. But haven’t great teachers always sought to inspire?