Archive for Thursday, October 25, 2007

Laptops make teachers’ lives easier

October 25, 2007

De Soto High School English teacher Donna Rhodes said having a school-issued laptop has made her life easier.

"My school laptop has facilitated my planning tremendously," she said. "My home computer crashed during the summer, and I did not have the funds to replace it. Without my school-issued laptop, I would have had to spend a lot more hours at school than I already do."

In June, the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education voted 5-2 to put laptops in the hands of all teachers with a 48-month lease of 500 laptop computers with an annual payment of $185,898. The initiative was paid for with a half-mill increase in the capital outlay fund.

Previously, Mize, Clear Creek and Starside elementary schools and both high schools were using stationary computers while laptops were available to the remaining teachers in the district.

Laptops have been distributed to all teachers in the district since August.

Rhodes said she enjoyed the portability of the laptops, especially when sharing her classroom on white days at De Soto High. Previously, she was using library computers during her plan time.

"I usually would go to the library, which has available computers unless another teacher has a class using them," she said. "There are two other teachers stranded outside their rooms during that same time, so the one computer available in the inspiration room would not suffice."

Another perk that Rhodes said she enjoyed was being able to take her laptop, and therefore her class, outdoors on nice days, like she did earlier this month.

"After lunch I had scheduled quiet reading time for the students while I conferred individually with students about their grades," she said. "It was such a beautiful day that we decided to go outside and read in the courtyard area. I was able to take my laptop and conference with students outside, something I would not have been able to do without a laptop."

Kelly Webb, coordinator of learning services, said putting laptops in the hands of all teachers had made a positive change in the learning environment.

"It has created a more efficient workspace for our teachers and provided them tools that they need when they need them and where they need them," she said.

The district's Teaching and Learning Services Department hadn't asked for feedback on the laptops from individual teachers, but Webb said she saw them using the laptops extensively in their classroom instruction. She said the laptops gave the teachers the ability to do more things, which affects student learning.

"One of the number one things that can impact student learning is the ability of the teacher," she said.

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