LaVille Schools embracing technology

LAPAZ – Fingernails on the chalkboard are a thing of the past as LaVille Elementary School prepares to install Promethean Boards in its classrooms before school opens in the Fall. While already fully integrated at Laville Jr./Sr. High School, the elementary school has only a few units in place now as a test. While some other county schools have similar technology, Union North schools will be fully equipped as school begins next year.

Promethean Boards® are a brand name for an integrated white board which is hung in the front of the classroom. The teacher can write on the board, shift images through touch screen technology, and program and run the unit from his/her desk.

Third grade teacher MaryElizabeth Dennie demonstrated the unit as she taught a math lesson to her class.

“I have the history of front-of-room teaching right here,” she said. “First, there were these (pointing to the chalkboards still mounted on the wall under the Promethean Board). Then there was the overhead projector for many years (indicating one under a table). Now, I use this new computerized aid in almost every subject I teach,” she finished.

Dennie’s students were completing assigned problems on old-fashioned paper at their desks as she taught the lesson from the Board. That, too, will be ancient history as the elementary school moves to 1:1 computing—that is, providing a portable computer for each individual student. Again, the jr./sr. high school is the lead since Macbook computers are already in the hands of the older students. Faculty laptops are the identical unit, ensuring smooth interaction and training.

Now, elementary students will have their own computer, although the decision between Macbooks and I-Pads has not yet been made, said Technology Director Mike Sumpter.

One difference between usages of older students versus younger ones is that jr./sr. high students are allowed to take their computers home, while elementary students will only have theirs at school. A common concern might be: “Who pays for the unit if the student breaks it or messes it up?” The answer is that parents are responsible. The school corporation takes a very flexible approach to advising parents, however. Some families might insure the computer through their home insurance policy. Others may choose to pay a small premium for a school-organized insurance. Still others may choose not to insure the unit, planning to cover the cost themselves in case of an accident.

“The cost of these computers, however, is just over $1,000,” warns Sumpter.

(For more on Union North's focus on technology, read the complete story in the May 2 edition of The Pilot News.)