Education column: Parkview elementary gets tech upgrade

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy

Parkview Elementary has begun embracing technology in a big way. Principal Christi Richards has set about equipping all her classrooms with needed technologies in this school of approximately 500 students.

Between new equipment purchases and rounding up little used equipment available elsewhere in the district, she’s loading classrooms with technology and training teachers in its use.

“Technology in education is important because it engages students’ minds in multi-sensory modes,” she said.

Richards has been busy with replacing parts and repairs; purchasing new equipment where possible, and is now deploying all kinds of great technology tools in classrooms. Included among these are SMART boards (www.smarttech.com/us/), Mimios (http://us.mimio.com/), Mobi pads (www.einstruction.com/products/mobile-interactive-whiteboards/mobi-mobile-interactive-whiteboard/), document cameras, like the AverMedias (www.averusa.com/presentation/product_cp355.asp/), a portable gooseneck document camera now in every classroom.

All classrooms have digital projectors that can share whatever’s being viewed, whether in 3-D through the document camera, or on an interactive surface projected to big screen for the whole class.

One Parkview teacher shared that, since incorporating these technologies, her student engagement has been amazing, and her students are eager to do work to share with the whole class, using the technology tools now in place. Interestingly, she said it had made them more discriminating in the quality of their work.

“Technology is definitely a great motivator,” she said.

Another, Jennifer Torres, uses iPod Touches in her kindergarten class from a grant she wrote. She’s found engaging “games” that teach the alphabet, telling time, and more.

“The iPod Touches have worked really well, especially since few of my students have any access to technology outside of school.”

Not long after, I was talking with a small group of Parkview teachers after a training. Suddenly, a veteran teacher — formerly resistant to technology — purposefully made her way towards the group, stopped and began talking about how excited she was to be able to get a DVI adapter to connect to her VGA/RGB cables, etc. etc., and how thrilling to digitally record mark-ups (etc., etc.) using virtual ink and how excited her students were going to be.

I was stunned. She knew none of these terms a year ago.

There was nothing to do but hold up my hand in the classic stop gesture and say, “Stop! Who are you and what have you done with Mrs. ….” (sorry…have to protect the names of the innocent), while we all enjoyed a good laugh…including her.

Most definitely, new and exciting things have begun to happen at Parkview Elementary. I also heard that they’ll shortly be connecting face-to-face, in real-time, via video conferencing, on big screen with teachers from an elementary school in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Amazing.

John Cotton Dana said, ”Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”