Teachers and students from Oaks Elementary showed off multiple examples of how they are using iPads, SMART Boards and other technology items in their classes every day during Tuesday night's school board meeting.
Oaks Elementary is in the process of putting SMART Boards into all of their classrooms. Principal Mark Moyer said that the board are about "75 percent done."
The Oaks Elementary Home and School Association raised just over $21,000 to buy SMART Boards for the school. Moyer said that over time, the Home and School Association has raised more than $55,000 for technology. A family from the district also donated money to purchase iPads.
Eight teachers and twelve students showed the board the many projects they can do with computers and tablets.
Teacher Tara Chester showed off the PictureBook application on her iPad, which student Ilya Galushkin used to start a book about sharks. Chester said one of the benefits of having all the technology is that she can e-mail projects home to her students' parents.
Several of the teachers use the iPads in place of paper worksheets. Students also use the SMART Boards in day-to-day tasks. First-grade students Erin Zimmerman and Madison McGloin showed how they learn to spell words by using letter cards on the SMART Board.
"The stools come with the boards," joked teacher Bridgitte Diaz as Zimmerman and McGloin had to climb up on short steps to reach the board.
Fourth-grader Christopher Bahr showed off a PowerPoint presentation he did with two other students for a science lesson. Students can share presentations with each other, and some teachers are using their district-provided Fusion Pages
The board members complimented Moyer, the teachers and the students on their presentation.
"We congratulate you and your staff on using this technology and for working with the parents to get the [SMART] boards," board president Thomas DiBello said.
Moyer said that one of the biggest benefits to the technological classroom is that lessons can be tailored to individual students.
"Classes like ESL, you can't teach one big group lesson," Moyer said.
Moyer also said that having the SMART Boards helps the teacher extend the lesson. The teachers have mostly adapted their previous lesson plans and use the boards and iPads as tools.
DiBello said that the board has been moving towards a "bring your own device" to school program, where students could bring their own computers or tablets and use them in class. The school would provide equipment for students who do not own them.
"Maybe we use Oaks as a pilot school for that," DiBello said. "Survey the parents, see who has devices already so we know what we need."
Several board members agreed that the district needs to move forward on keeping up with new technology, so that students leave school prepared for what they'll encounter in the working or college world.
Board member Julie Mullin pointed out that students in the seven elementary schools are all having different experiences before they get to the fifth grade center. Mullin opined that creating guidelines and investing in a technology program would level the playing field and make the student experience more equal.
Board member Mark Dehnert said he would like to see a way to track student achievement and evaluate whether the technology improves grades or PSSA results.
"We're talking about spending a lot of money," Dehnert said.
The board congratulated members of the Oaks Home and School Association for doing all the fundraising for the SMART Boards.
"It's great to have that buy-in," DiBello said.