What do we have in our school right now?
Currently in our middle school our classrooms are equipped with mounted LCD projectors. An LCD projector is a type of video projector for displaying video, images or computer data on a screen or other flat surface. The projectors allow our teachers to project any information from; Power Point presentations, websites, example problems, student work, etc. Each teacher also has their own laptop computer.
In our school we also have an additional 20 laptop computers for student use and about 90 desktop computers for student use. The desktop computers are distributed over 3.5 computer labs. We also have a few teachers that use interactive white board technology. An interactive whiteboard or IWB, is a large interactive display that connects to a computer and projector. A projector projects the computer's desktop onto the board's surface, where the teacher controls the computer using a pen, finger or other device. The IWB's are used a lot in our middle school math classrooms.
How could our school look different?
One thing I think a lot about is how do we build on the interest in technology within our school walls? Many of our students come to school each day "plugged" into technology and crave that form of learning at school. One idea we have is to try and create a system in our school in which many of our students have a laptop computer assigned to them for use during school.
One of the goals at our middle school is to try and provide opportunities for our students to use technology at school. It would probably not be surprising to anyone that nearly 80% of our middle school students bring a cell phone to school each day. Additionally probably 50% or more of our students have other forms of technology in their possession daily; IPOD, DS, Gameboy Systems, ITOUCH, etc. We have some rules established to help our students learn when is an appropriate time to use technology tools. If you walked into our school before school starts you would see many students listening to music, texting, etc. It's interesting to think about what our school would look like before, during, and after school if our students had their own laptops? At 8:25 AM we ask that our students transition into our classrooms and put away their technology tools.
One of our teachers, Sandi Zimmerman, is currently trying to pilot this sort of program with some of her students. Please understand that our vision would be to use the computer as a tool; just like we have paper, pencil, books, etc. The computer would be a tool that would help our students be more organized and creative and to have connection to the internet resources. I also believe that the computer would be a great resource for assisting some of our organizationally challenged students. I think it would be a real advantage to many of our students to create less paper filled environment at our school. Below you will read a summary of what Mrs. Zimmerman would like to start with some of her students.
Tech Team News
A group of 7th grade Language Arts/ writing students will be going "Paper Free"! The writing projects of 25 students will be completed using Google docs and a new technology called "cloud computing". This pilot group of students will be Pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and presenting their writing projects using google docs and sending them to Mrs. Zimmerman, who will give suggestions back to them using the same format. This is an exciting challenge for our group of students. This group will be using seminar time to learn new technology strategies and skills. Mrs. Cooper, librarian, will also be helping with this class during seminar time. Stacy Behmer, who is a technology specialist for Grant Wood, will be coming in to help us out occasionally also. One huge benefit of using this type of resource is that the students will be able to connect to their work on Google docs from any computer that has internet access.
I would really like your suggestions and comments about school technology. Please feel free to post comments.