West Ward Elementary School kindergartener Jayden Jordan practices lettering on an iPad in Amy Rogers’ class with help from classroom aide Jolene Manley. Leah Howey shows off her lettering in Amy Rogers' West Ward kindergarten class. West Ward second-graders work on their iPads during MET.Kelly Archer's fifth grade class at West Ward Elementary School works on online story worksheets in pairs and small groups.Kelly Archer (right) helps students (from left) Evan Leece and Chris Dryer on an online assignment.As part of the bond, the district was able to upgrade/ create six computer labs district-wide.As part of the bond, the district was able to upgrade/ create six computer labs district-wide.Allegan High School students complete activities on pottermore.com while reading "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in Jennifer Conrad's English classAllegan juniors (from left) Katlyn Scofield and Kennedy Millering complete a "webquest" about atomic structure during Jeniffer Ward's chemistry class. Sophomores Destiny Sheldon and Megan Emmons complete an imperial essay in the hallway.Advanced placement physics students build virtual circuits at phet.colorado.edu during Andrew Isola's class.Junior Chris McBride uses different websites to compare two careers—which has a higher salary annually and which has better job availability. Sophomores (clockwise from front left) Jeffrey Caldarona, Kaden Stull, Tyler Schafer and Jacob Neese work with GeoGebra. Students work on leadership quizzes in Brad Fisher's class.

Allegan Public Schools roll out new technology

Kayla Deneau, Staff Writer

This year, Allegan Public Schools rolled out a one-to-one technology program—that’s approximately one device per student—using funds from grants and the 2012 bond.

Original projections showed the district planned to spend $3.1 million in technology infrastructure and equipment.

“We exceeded the amount we originally planned on spending,” said director of instructional services Cheryl-Marie Manson. “We were able to do that because I applied for and received an additional grant award for Pine Trails Elementary School in the amount of about $265,000.”

The district spent approximately $3.4 million on the technology rollout.

Previous plans included introducing one-to-one technology at the high school level with increased technology throughout the district.

“Instead we were able to do (two students per device) with iPads at the elementary level; with Pine Trails we did one-to-one because of the grant. Sixth and seventh grade both have carts of 120 netbooks and students in grades eight through 12 each have their own netbook,” said Manson.

She said six computer labs were added throughout the district as well.

“It has completely transformed the way we teach,” Manson said. “Going from being a teacher who has all the knowledge to being a facilitator of learning. The smartest person in the room is now Google.”

Learning is changing through each grade level within the district.

West Ward Elementary School kindergarten teacher Amy Rogers said she was able to procure 10 additional iPads—nine through donorschoose.org and one from a parent—so her class has one for each student.

Her students now work at writing letters on an iPad to conserve paper.

West Ward’s fifth-grade students work to answer questions on an interactive online worksheet in pairs and small groups before filling one out as a class.

High school math teacher Chris Conrad said, “I think Google is using the certification to show this is someone who knows what they are talking about with our products.”

High school math teacher Chris Conrad said, “I think Google is using the certification to show this is someone who knows what they are talking about with our products.”

Conrad said high school is a Google Apps for Education school, meaning students at the middle and high school level each have a gmail address for internal use and access to Google Drive, word-processing, websites and blogging platforms.

“Using Google has really streamlined the process,” he said. “Prior to this they’d create a file and have to email it to me. I’d open it, make comments and email it back; it was very cumbersome.”

Conrad has used programs such as GeoGebra in classes. Students can use the program to create shapes with different numbers of sides and find diagonals within the shape.

Allegan Alternative High School social studies teacher Kyle Shack is working towards receiving the Google Educator certification as well.

“I’ve always been interested in the utilization of technology in education,” he said. “The training is really useful in using the Google Apps for Education. I’ve been using it with students to have more efficient communication between the teacher and student.”

Shack said the alternative high school has been lucky enough to have had 1:1 technology for the past few years.

“We were able to procure Chromebooks produced by Google,” he said. “Our students can boot them up quickly and access the entire Google app world right from those machines in class.”

The students have been using the technology during “explore hour,” a time when they pick a topic in which they are interested or passionate, research it and publish their findings on Blogger for others to use, said Shack.

“We have three students who are working together to research, plan and code their own video game starting from scratch,” he said. “They are researching products, creating story boards and learning coding using free sources they have access to through the technology.”

Manson said it is very rare for a district to do such a large technology rollout all at once, but the staff is working together to master the technology.

“I think there is a learning curve, but not an obvious one,” she said. “The mantra is we are all learning and failing forward—meaning we are going to fail but we continue to get up and move forward. It’s a good thing for the students to see.”

Manson said the district has been working to make sure the teachers are supported in their use of technology—offering online training, after-school trainings and had two teachers in each building become a digital training coaches.

“They learn more and support teachers right in that building,” she said.

For more examples of how Allegan Public Schools is using technology in the classroom, search #APStech on twitter.

“Teachers are posting great examples with pictures of what they are doing in the classroom,” said Manson.

For full story, pick up a copy of the Oct. 9 issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.

AlleganNews is part of Wilcox Newspapers 

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