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Technology Takes Over The Classroom

February 28, 2008, 10:00 PM by Kelli Grant

Technology Takes Over The Classroom
It seems nearly every year a piece of technology in your home needs an upgrade or there's something bigger and better that you just can't resist buying. The same goes for schools across the country. Some are leading the way when it comes to integrating technology into your child's schoolwork. Instead of textbooks, paper and pencils, it's now tablets, Smartboards and Ipods. 

Students used to open up textbooks to do exercises three through five as part of a routine that continued day after day. But times have changed. And now students use technology to learn. 

Parker Teacher Cindy Froiland says, “Every piece of equipment that we can possibly get technologically we have done.” 

It started in the Parker School district with Smartboards, an interactive white board students can write on, draw on and learn from.

Superintendent Tracy Olson says, “It was just awesome to see how much technology can be in one item in a classroom and how big a difference it had made in our school.” 

Olson says the Smartboards are in virtually every classroom.

She says, “An interactive board gets the kids out of their seat, there's color, there's all sorts of bells and whistles.” 

This year, Parker high school students each have their own tablet computer as part of the state's Classroom Connections laptop program. It's changing how students and teachers, like Cindy Froiland, think about learning. 

Froiland says, “At first, I must admit, I was thinking why would I need my students to have technology and then the more I learned myself, the more I realized this is just advancing so much for language arts.” 

Fifth grader Laine Linneweber says, “It’s pretty awesome.” 

Junior Jeff Nelson and 5th grader Laine Linneweber are working together to research and make interactive web pages. After writing a research paper, the two are putting pictures and audio online. 

It's called a photo story project. The two say they're learning a lot about technology from each other.
Nelson says, “It seems like they look up to us and they find it cool. They look forward to how much they're going to learn.”

Students are also helping teachers learn a lesson or two. 

“I learn so much every single day and that's what's been so great about having the tablets here at Parker too...is they're willing to help us just as much as we're willing to help them,” Froiland says. 

But with school districts asking the state for more money each year, how can Parker afford to upgrade technology each year? Superintendent Olson says it's called a Plan. 

Olson says, “We have to look from year to year. If we need a bus or if we need a roof replaced or something like that, we look at it that way. But we have a big list of things that everybody wants. Technology is an item that is there every year.” 

Olson says the school received a large donation to help purchase Smartboards, the district was just awarded a Technology Grant from Qwest and teachers hold fundraisers to purchase equipment.
So what's next? Something all students are familiar with...Ipods. 

Froiland says, “We have one student that's researching an artist. And that information that he received, he can narrate that, put it on a podcast and somebody can subscribe to that if they happen to be interested in that same artist.” 

Nelson says, “That's gonna be neat. We can take our work anywhere basically now and it will always be with us.” 

It may be surprising to think a district with 360 students would be so technologically advanced. But Olson says it's important to prepare kids for what's they'll find outside of school. 

Olson says, “You still need technology. It doesn't matter what your work environment may be in the 21st century, kids will need to know technology.” 

Froiland says, “I think in the long run, if people really think about it, the small school is the one that can keep advancing.”

Advancing and preparing students for a bright future. 

Olson says the district is considering monetary awards for teachers who set high technology goals in their classroom. The money would go toward purchasing more equipment.

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