Students Benefit from Teachers Using Technology

The beginning of a new school year is marked not only with falling temperatures and dropping leaves, but with pencils and notebooks, folders and locker combinations. This fall our school year is marked by all of those things — and the welcome presence of new technology thanks to the passage of our last bond proposal.

District Director of Information Technology, Dave Tchozewski, is pleased to report that Jenison has purchased 300 new iPads, 334 new iMacs, 440 MacBook Pros, and 300 Apple TVs for use in classrooms districtwide. Powering these new devices was a task in itself, as JPS buildings (until recently) did not have wireless technology or wi-fi available to students and teachers.

“Our data center was rebuilt and updated this summer allowing for faster and more reliable network access throughout the district,” Dave said. “Included in the update was more reliable backup power supply, appropriate climate control, and the addition of several user friendly racks for easier access to our networking equipment. The JPS Technology Team has gone above and beyond this summer to ensure that technology would be updated and ready to go early in our school year.”

Our team of six technology professionals worked tirelessly over the summer to distribute the new computers and iPads, train teachers, ensure that all systems were in place for functionality and ease of use, move, re-wire, and re-design scores of labs, and work on the new mobile labs termed C.O.W.S.:  Computers On Wheel(S).

The “C.O.W.S.” are a welcome innovation by staff members seeking to more fully integrate technology into their classrooms. With 12 total throughout the district, teachers are better able to access the computers and technology needed to teach 21st century skills.

Jenison High School Principal Brandon Graham said the benefit of using “COWS” is that technology becomes mobile“We have the ability to make every classroom a computer lab by simply wheeling a cart of computers into the room and letting teachers work on projects there. It’s a wonderful tool that we’re excited to have on hand.”

 

Of course while new tools are necessary and helpful, the teacher-student relationship is still paramount in reaching and motivating kids, as was obvious this day (see photo at rightin Ms.Wendy Hunt’s classroom at Jenison Junior High. Connecting with kids remains the focus in all of our schools, and doing so with compassion and care is paramount. We make it our goal to model excellence and demonstrate a love of learning that is flexible and accommodating. We strive to grow with and expand to meet the demands of our world. And in 2012, understanding, teaching, and integrating technology must be part of what happens in our classrooms.

 

Thank you to our community and to our Information Technology staff for making it possible for us to connect with kids in this way!

Professional Development for Secondary Teachers

If you ask me, there’s no better way to kick off the New Year than to spend time growing and learning with colleagues as a professional community. That’s why this past Monday, January 2nd, was such a special treat. Jenison junior and senior high teachers had the privilege of listening to Mr. Kevin Honeycutt, a nationally respected keynote speaker and educator who challenged us to consider the digital worlds in which many of our children live—and the digital skills demanded by the  job markets into which they will be entering as adults.

With a moving personal history, compelling stories of his own childhood and time in the classroom, Mr. Honeycutt pushed us to consider new strategies and loftier ideals. He probed with questions that had us thinking twice:

  • Children, teens, and young adults are playing on a “digital playground.” Are there enough “playground supervisors” to make it not only a safe experience—but a beneficial one?
  • How many of us adults would feel lost without our laptops, cell phones, or digital organizers? Is it appropriate to ask kids, then, to leave their “digital appendages” at home when coming to school? Is there a way to leverage the most powerful computing equipment that our world has ever known—and use it for amazing learning opportunities?

After this exciting and thought-provoking presentation, teachers had the afternoon to learn from their district community about topics such as Google documents, flip cameras and their uses in the classroom, blogging, “bell ringers” (ideas for engaging students in the minutes before/after the bell rings), the electronic library, and understanding the iPad.

We are blessed to not only have had a rich day of learning, but that so many of our educators were willing to participate in the teaching and presenting. It reminds me that our staff is giving and supportive, seeking to partner with their fellow educators in any way they can so that kids will benefit.

Because at the end of the day, that’s why we do it.

We do it for the kids.

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Check back tomorrow for more wonderful photos of our PD Day!