By Crystal McGough
Clay-Chalkville High School has taken many new strides in the area of technology this year. From the introduction of e-readers and tablet computers to Interactive White Boards, the school is offering students and teachers many new ways to use electronic resources in the teaching and learning process.
This year, the school has purchased 30 Nook Color e-reader devices for students to check out from the library and download their reading assignments electronically.
“We do not currently have e-readers or tablets for every student,” said Melanie Gaines, a National Board Certified Teacher of AP English Language at CCHS. “Students may bring their personal e-reader or tablet to school, but they must have a form filled out by their parents indicating they understand that the students is solely responsible for the technology they bring to school.”
This fall, Jefferson County will be providing students and teachers with a program called OverDrive, an online library that provides access to e-books and audio books for download.
At this time, only school reading, such as classic literature, is available electronically. Textbooks have not been converted into e-book formats
“As a school, we have decided that the teachers will keep classroom sets of the textbooks and not distribute texts to the students,” Gaines said. “Each year multiple books are lost and this will prevent further issues with lost textbooks. Students may check out their textbooks from the library just as they would a book for use at home.”
Gaines said that new math textbooks have been adopted in Jefferson County schools and math teachers were supplied with iPads for classroom use. Students have an online textbook account, as well.
“The online account gives them access to the text, teacher lessons, worksheets assigned by the teacher, extra practice quizzes, and extra examples with a teacher tutor,” she said.
In addition, Pre-AP and AP math, science and English teachers have been supplied with Promethean boards, or Interactive White Boards, in their classrooms. These Promethean boards come with an ActivSlate, which allows teachers to write and interact with the Promethean board from anywhere in the classroom.
“These technologies make learning more interactive as students can have a hand in the technology being used,” Gaines said. “So if we were annotating a poem on the IWB, then I could take the ActivSlate to a student and have them do it from the slate and it would show up on the board.”
Gaines said that Jefferson County has also implemented a social networking site called Edmodo for teachers and students to use.
“Many students say it reminds them of Facebook, but it is for schools,” she said. “Teachers can create a ‘group’ for each of their classes and can then post assignments, create discussions amongst classes or connect with other teachers system wide. This is a great program and the fact that it is monitored keeps the students and the teachers safe.”
CCHS teachers can also communicate with students through a text-messaging program called Remind101, Gaines said.
“It allows students to text a ‘fake’ number, which teachers can then send reminders through,” she said. “Teachers can’t ‘text’ students, however they can go to the Remind101 website and send a message which translates into a text to the students. For example, if I have an essay on Beowulf due on Monday, I can set a reminder to send a text to say, ‘Beowulf essay due Mon., don’t forget.’”
One technology that has been available at CCHS for years is an AP Mobile Lab, which consists of 30 Wi-Fi computers.
“AP English teachers have access to a mobile lab that was purchased with AP funds from the A+ College Ready Grant a few years back,” Gaines said. “Students have access to laptops in a portable lab in the media center.”
The school is in its fifth year of the A+ College Ready Grant, she said. The lab was purchased at the beginning of the grant.
Gaines said that she believes the biggest impact of technology in schools is still to come.
“As far as impact, I don’t know that I can say that it has really revolutionized schools yet, but you can see that coming down the road,” she said. “Obviously technology is expensive and with that in mind, small amounts are implemented over the course of time.”
Student are more impacted by use of their own personal technologies, she said.
“Personally, if students have Nook or Kindle apps on their smartphones and they want to download the text that we are reading, such as The Great Gatsby, they can do that instead of buying the books,” Gaines said. “I then monitor their use in class, but it really cuts back on the ‘I can’t get the book’, since so many of the classics we read are free downloads. Mainly, I think that technology has been more beneficial to the teachers and the way they teach.”