RES Gets High Tech Teaching Aids

Thursday, October 2, 2014
RES fifth grader Emily Starr shares a smile after finishing an assignment on her Chrome Book

Rector Elementary School is making technology more readily available to students through a continuing initiative throughout the elementary and high school classes. As part of this continuing initiative, the school has purchased new laptop computers for its fifth grade classes.

"With the digital age upon us, we felt like implementing more digital technology in our classrooms was an ideal step for our students and our school," elementary principal Nate Henderson said. "One way that we're accommodating that is through our one-to-one initiative in elementary."

Each fifth grader is able to use a Google Chrome Book with access to individual wireless printers. For many students, the experience is further strengthening their technical experience.

"Kids are adept to learning digitally," Henderson said. "That's the direction we're going as a school, and as a society."

The laptops give the students access to a wealth of information through internet research, as well as advanced tools designed to capture the attention through the use of technology.

"Any of the lessons we do in class, they can use the computers to pull up research," fifth grade teacher Barbara Robertson said. "We've already used them for all sorts of research, like our bug collections we do each year."

One of the best uses of the new systems is TenMarks, a program which can help students increase their understanding of essentially any curriculum by presenting work at different levels. For instance, the Chrome Book of a student struggling with math may go over lessons at a lower grade level to better understand the subject. This program provides teachers with a wealth of information such as performance; time spent on the assignment and what area of the subject a student has difficulty or thrives.

"I really like TenMarks because it lets the students work at their own level and feel comfortable while letting me see how they're doing and what areas we might need to focus," fifth grade teacher Leisa Wesley said.

The laptops also utilize software designed to turn routine studies into learning activities. The software may require a student to answer a set amount of multiplication problems in a certain amount of time to help an Indiana Jones-like character escape from a cave. The work follows that of a traditional lesson, but comes in the shiny technological wrapper which encourages students to be more positive in their approach.

"I like the Chrome Books," fifth grade Greydon Boyster said. "They are a really good teaching product. I think it makes things easier because you can go slower if you don't understand something and go faster on the things you know."

Each student has their own Chrome Book, kept in their classroom, with individualized passwords. The laptops also are set up to allow students to set their own wallpaper or photo, giving each computer a personalized connection to the corresponding student.

Of course, the school's networks have strict safety settings ensuring the students are protected from any unwanted outside access or inappropriate subject matter.

Similar laptops have been in use in the district's sixth grade, science and home economics classes. The latest additions were purchased this summer.

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