Madison Life and Times Spring 2016 - Page 10

EDUCATION devices. Teachers were issued the devices in 2013, and students received theirs a year later. During the harsh winter of 2014-15, learning within the district continued on snow days with students and teachers using social media to communicate in real time from home. MadisonGrant used Google Classroom and My Big Campus as virtual classrooms. Abbey Bennett, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade science, said she’s had to think carefully about what steps are necessary for an effective lesson. One strategy she uses is creat- 10 MADISON ing step-by-step video clips that cover a variety of topics. She also prepares lists of frequently asked questions. She and other teachers are surprised by the level of engagement, communication and collaboration the e-learning environment fosters. This school year, Alexandria-Monroe Community Schools and Frankton-Lapel Community Schools also adopted one-to-one computing. Many parents are concerned about computers taking over instruction. Joe Bowman, assistant principal at Frankton Elementary School, said that isn’t the case. The devices enhance teaching. “They create a new avenue for learning and reaching kids, adding some excitement and fun into learning, which is always good,” he explained. “We are engaging students and attempting to reach those who may need a little push to be motivated. A lot of kids are responding well and are excited to learn.” Principal Ronda Podzielinski agreed. “Teachers were initially nervous because they thought that we were going to expect them to use it all day, and that’s not what we planned at all,” she said. “Computers are not going to replace a good book and all the other things a teacher uses. It’s just another way to help students learn information they need to know.” While a generational divide does exist between older and younger teachers, she said staff embraced the new technology. “We veterans are game to learn, but it just takes us a little bit longer. What’s great is the kids are a good help, too,” Podzielinski said. “I think, for a small school district, we’re trying to get our kids exposed to technology because it’s important. It’s their world now.” Sixth-grade language arts teacher Rachel Friend said her students use their computers to create online journals, and their creative writing seems to flow better. Using a computer, she believes, allows students to focus more on what they write rather than how they write. Students don’t worry about whether their handwriting is legible, and don’t have to stop and look up how to spell a word or gather information. Typing takes care of the legibility problem; they can use Google to quickly find information, and writing programs underline misspelled words, which students can fix later. The computer “frees their minds to be a little more creative because all those grammatical things we can fix up in the end,” Friend said. Ryan Glaze, assistant superintendent for Instruction, Innovation and Elementary at Anderson Community Schools said the district is moving more slowly into one-to-one. Chromebooks have been issued to all sixthgrade students at Highland Middle School. Next year, Glaze said, that program will be expanded to seventh and eighth grades. “The idea mostly is you are creating opportunities for inquiry for the kid