Archive for Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Technology offers classroom flexibility

July 23, 2008

Keeping in mind that no two students learn in the same way, at least one area school district uses technology throughout its classrooms to vary instructional options for its teachers.

"There's a large demand for differentiated instruction in classrooms because of the varied needs of kids and the expectations that you're meeting all their needs," said Eudora School District 491Superintendent Don Grosdidier. "It's very difficult to design lessons to meet the needs of each student. But the more technology that you can infuse into the classroom, you create a more flexible environment in the classroom that helps meet those needs."

Such is the impetus for the addition of interactive white boards, voice amplification systems and more laptop computers throughout Eudora schools.

The passage of a $45 million school bond in November 2007 helped the district purchase and install the devices.

Before the bond's passage, Eudora School Board members began to discuss how funds should be spent should it be approved. They decided technology would be integral to improving what already is an exemplary school district.

The board then sent a group of elementary teachers to attend the Technology and Learning Conference in Dallas. One of the items that the teachers especially liked was interactive whiteboards.

The chalkboard, with all of its sneeze-inducing dust, appears to be something out of the stone ages when compared to a dry-erase white board. Furthermore, the traditional whiteboard appears especially obsolete when in comparison to Promethean Activboards.

Prometheans project images from a computer onto a white board, creating an interactive experience that allows students to manipulate words and pictures that appear on the board. The district piloted one of the systems in West Elementary School classroom this past year.

"It's unbelievable how it has completely changed the way I teach," fourth-grade teacher Niki Rheuport said. "It's just so interactive."

The influx of new technology also has driven the district's administrative decisions.

For Eudora Middle School math teacher Marla Johnson was recently promoted to director of curriculum and instruction.

Johnson just completed a master's degree in technology instruction and implementation from Grand Canyon University and has chaired the school improvement team at EMS for the past seven years.

"I'm looking forward to incorporating more technology, especially as the district is moving forward with growth and technology that they're able to provide for the students," Johnson said said.

The district also plans on adding technological coaches in each school after the expansion of district facilities next year.

Grosdidier said the district was not spending money on technology simply because it wanted to, but because it should.

"All of our decisions from an instructional standpoint, a technological standpoint, an assessment standpoint are made based on the curriculum," he said. "You shouldn't go out and purchase software applications and teach something just because you can. You need to make your curriculum decisions first, and that drives everything else."

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