FAIRBORN — The Fairborn City School District is working toward integrating the latest technology in all the classrooms throughout the district and has made some noteworthy improvements this summer at both the primary and intermediate schools.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Sue Brackenhoff discussed those improvements in technology as she demonstrated a new LCD interactive touch-screen monitor during the Sept. 7 Fairborn City Schools Board of Education meeting. The school district has purchased two of these portable, interactive monitors for teachers and staff to test and assess.
As part of an ambitious technology plan, the school district replaced all of the short-throw projectors in every classroom at the primary and intermediate schools. Brackenhoff said the district is looking at other advances in technology in the future as well.
During a recent visit to the primary school, Brackenhoff noted that she observed several teachers using online educational resources. One group of teachers was watching an instructional video that focused on literacy instruction, and another teacher was using ClassDojo in her classroom. The ClassDojo communication app connects teachers with students and parents as they work together to create a positive classroom environment.
“Again, the short-throw projectors are what we have installed in the schools. This technology is also referred to as an interactive white board which is connected to a computer,” Brackenhoff said.
She pointed out that the new LCD interactive touch screen, which can be easily mounded on the wall, has about a 10-year lifespan in comparison to the bulbs in the projectors, which last approximately two-to-three years and are expensive.
“We are going to keep one of the LCD interactive touch-screen monitors at the high school and a couple of our teachers will try it out and evaluate it. The other monitor will be kept at our central office,” said Brackenhoff. “In the long range, the LCD interactive touch screen monitors are more cost efficient, but we want to know what our teachers think about this technology.”
Teachers and students at both the primary and intermediate schools are also using online resources that augment the students’ textbook learning and provide practice reviews for tests including questions for that test. Each teacher has access to a selection of instructional materials that meets the needs of students and covers every basic subject. Students can independently access their lessons and computer-based assignments.
Brackenhoff noted that this technology enhances both the teaching and learning experience in the classroom by moving away from traditional whiteboards and blackboards and providing access to educational software and online resources.
“Teachers can use this technology for an introduction to a concept, or students can use this at home to review something done in class,” Brackenhoff said. “The students’ textbooks are online as well. It is amazing how many students at the high school opt to access their textbooks online verses carrying around textbooks.”
As part of their science series, the teachers are accessing a website called Think Central that provides great teaching tools. Students can log into the website and access their assignments, quizzes, and a number of fun, interactive activities.
“These electronic materials pair with our science textbooks. Teachers can introduce a lesson concept at a pace where they can start it and stop it at any time,” Brackenhoff said. “It will show students a concept and asks questions. Students can also do their lessons on pro books (MacBook Pro) by logging into their own accounts.”
The interactive technology also provides teachers the option to track the daily attendance of students and maintain daily calendars and lesson plans. Brackenhoff demonstrated how students could record their daily attendance by using the touch-screen technology to move their names from one location on the screen and place them inside different colored balloons.
“The students can go through a menu of things like selecting what lunch menu they want. They can simply drag their name over into the right column and drop it,” Brackenhoff said. “Teachers can write on a board or jump to a video or a demonstration. In seconds, they can switch to any form of media. This makes learning a lot more exciting than doing some problems on a board or paper.”
As the school district continues to make the technology improvements, district leaders will continue testing out new, innovative technology for classroom use, Brackenhoff added.
“Our teachers are excited. Our primary and intermediate school buildings were our focus this past summer. We will focus on Baker Middle School and our high school next summer and start changing over some of their outdated equipment,” Brackenhoff said. “In the meantime, we are working to keep what we do have operational and functional. I have to give kudos to the technology department that has worked without a supervisor for the past month, and it takes a lot of work to have everything ready for the new school year.”
Superintendent Mark North said he was pleased with the improvements in technology that were completed this year in the school district, and he wanted to share some of those advancements with the board of education.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer at Greene County News.