School District Signs on to New Technology in Classroom
Fifth- through eighth-grade classes will get 210 Apple iPads and netbooks; the schools will also add an technology education specialist.
Port Washington and Saukville students are about to get more advanced — technologically.
The School Board approved the addition of 210 Apple iPads and netbooks for students and teachers; the district also plans to create a new position for a technology education specialist, according to the Ozaukee Press.
The iPads will be used in fifth- through eighth-grade communications classes, according to the article. The netbooks will be used in fifth- through seventh-grade math classes.
Thomas Jefferson Middle School staff have been experimenting with personalized teaching in their math classes, a concept that started during a summer school program in 2011, Principal Alan Galarowicz said. The program has seen success, and netbooks will help further its application.
The "Next Generation Math Class," as Galarowicz called the summer school program, uses a combination of direct teacher instruction as well as computer work. It also regularly evaluates students on the pace that they are learning the various concepts; while one student might be learning on Monday on page 100, another student might still be working to understand concepts on page 50 — and that's OK.
"What we had was the best of both worlds. The teachers are key," Galarowicz said. "To teach out of one page for an entire class is (outdated)."
Staff at the middle school have been working throughout the year to tweak the program's "bugs," dealing with scheduling issues and lack of technology — but the addition of the netbooks will be huge.
"It has great potential," Galarowicz said of the program.
Technology in schools a hot topic
The addition of technology within the schools was a big focus during the School Board elections in April.
Leo Duffrin, who was eliminated from the race to become a School Board member during the primary, felt strongly that technology needed to be a priority.
"I seriously feel we are behind right now and I feel that we need to catch up and keep moving ahead," Duffrin said, adding that he has done some research on the topic, and believes there are grants available that could provide the district with funds to add the technology that would offer new learning opportunities and create a more efficient use of resources.
But candidate Ross Larsson, who also was eventually eliminated from the race, said it was something that should be done cautiously.
"Technology is not something we can just throw in the hands of kids," Larsson said
But because the school district recently saved $920,000 — by switching the employees' insurance provider from WEA Trust to instead contract with Humana — the cost of the iPads and netbooks is less daunting. The cost of the new computers, as well as the added technology position and math specialist, will total about $400,000, according to the Ozaukee Press.
"We’re in pretty nice financial shape right now," Superintendent Mike Weber told the Press.