Wednesday, January 4, 2012

NR teachers get technology boost

If students in the New Richmond Exempted Village School District got a new electronic gadget for Christmas, chances are their teacher can show them how it works.

New Richmond recently devoted an in-service day for teachers to technology issues ranging from use of smart phones and pad computers, sharing documents over the internet with Google Docs, to using the latest in database, social media and web authoring software.

New Richmond schools’ technology director Matt Pritchard conducts a class in Google Docs during New Richmond’s technology in-service day.

“If you have not grown up in the age of technology, you are going to need some help,” explained New Richmond superintendent Adam Bird. “Technology changes so fast and if we don’t work hard we can fall behind the kids.”

The idea of devoting an in-service day to technology issues came from New Richmond technology director Matt Pritchard whose small IT staff was stretched to find time for one-on-one training of classroom teachers. He didn’t have to wait very long for approval from Supt. Bird, who has prioritized professional development and keeping teachers ahead of the technology curve.

“I don’t know if we covered everything, but we were really excited that we could have a day where teachers could work on the same things.” said Bird.

“It was a tremendous opportunity,” said Pritchard. “We are asking teachers to utilize more technology than ever and it’s only fair that we follow up and make sure they are properly trained. The feedback has been tremendous. "

Monroe Elementary teacher Curtis Massey (left) assists Tim Clark demonstrate Smartboard technology.

Training sessions included use of Google Docs for Education (which allows users to share documents and calendars over the internet), Smartboards integration in the classroom, use of laptops including Mac Books, smartphones and tablet PCs, use of social media including YouTube and blogs, creating web pages, and introduction to Progress Book and data mapping.

Progress Book is an online program for teacher grade books, student information system, special education/gifted software, online learning, lesson plans and report cards which will replace Edline in the 2012-13 school year.

Training sessions were conducted by Pritchard and his staff of Julie Edmondson, Steve Wolf and Tanya Carter, vendor representatives and trainers from SOITA, a non-profit agency providing educators with a variety of opportunities for learning how to use technology in their classrooms.

The in-service day also included sessions for elementary math teachers on implementing the district’s new math program and sessions for intervention specialists.

“We scheduled breaks in the math and intervention sessions to allow teachers to pick technology sessions they wanted to attend,” said John Frye, director of pupil and staff services.

“It was incredibly helpful,” said Nicole Parker, high school English teacher and president of the New Richmond Education Association. “It was nice that we could choose the training that was complimentary to what we actually use in our classrooms.”
New Richmond technology specialists (from left) Julie Edmondson, Steve Wolf and Tanya Carter, conducted training sessions along with a Q & A sessions with district teachers on technology subjects.