By Naomi Klouda
Student Katlian Nelson agrees to let her teacher project a piece of writing onto a screen for a writing subject review.
Her hands are the favorite part of herself, she wrote.
“They help me when I am working the hay fields. They help me when I move bales of hay into perfect pods,” she wrote.
Her hands write stories, and her hands wipe tears.
In Emily Putney’s fifth-grade class at West Homer Elementary, students are reviewing a writing assignment for lessons in transitions and “voice.”
They do this in a seemingly old-fashioned way, helped along by the latest in projection technology. The teachers have a “document camera,” a device that sits on a flat surface with a camera mounted to it. The teacher places a piece of paper (or an object) in the view of the camera that she wants to show the whole class and that camera sends the image to the projector mounted to the ceiling.
Nelson’s essay fills the screen, with underlined sentences to show her transitions. Everyone in class can view a single page with ease.
In an age of technology, students in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are using these tools and many more-sophisticated ones as a matter of course. Blackboards, chalk and erasers don’t cut it anymore as the world turns on a new technological information age.
The challenge posed to school districts is whether they are integrating learning and new systems for learning — the Web — into their lesson plan to prepare students for future jobs.
The technology is certainly in the classrooms or schools.
Robert Porter is the technician serving 15 area schools extending from Chapman School at Anchor Point to Kachemak Selo and across Kachemak Bay to Seldovia, Port Graham and Nanwalek. In that area, there are around 1,500 computers to serve an estimated 2,000 students.
This is important because it means individual schools are in control of instructional tools — how much technology is exposed to which age groups.
Today, that includes desktop computers, but increasingly schools are choosing laptops instead. SmartBoards, the glitziest technology at $4,000 each, may end up in nearly every classroom of a school — as at Homer Middle School. Or, there might be only one, like in the library at West Homer.
The standard LCD protector in use by Emily Putney’s class, which costs less than a SmartBoard, is located in every school and every school uses them, Porter said. These allow the teacher’s computer screen to project onto the board for most any kind of demonstration, Powerpoint or project. They can also use it by simple document format.
The SmartBoard platform is a giant touch screen — picture an enormous iPad.
“What happens with a SmartBoard is that the projector acts like the computer monitor and displays it onto a big screen. Then the teacher or student can interact with the desktop like they normally would,” Porter said. But they use touch instead of a mouse or keyboard. Continue reading