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Ironwood schools to use new technology in classrooms

 

Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe

FACULTY AT the Ironwood Area School District look over their new Chromebooks to use in the classroom Wednesday at Luther L. Wright School in Ironwood.

IRONWOOD - Faculty at the Ironwood Area School District met Wednesday to discuss new ways to teach in the classroom using technology.

Recently the district purchased 50 new Chromebooks, laptop devices created by Google, Inc. Each computer runs off of the Internet, and is a "very cost effective" tool teachers can use.

"Our teachers will use these new Chromebooks with many web-based learning tools such as StarMath, StarReading, Accelerated Math and Accelerated Reader to just mention a few," superintendent Tim Kolesar said. "These programs will assess each student's present level of understanding and then design activities that will take the students to the next level of understanding."

The devices will complement other technology many of the classrooms already use including data projectors, document cameras, wireless chalkboards and Clicker systems.

Each Chromebook allows for teachers to share projects with students, and allow students to turn in assignments without ever having to print a single page. Students can also create and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and, along with staff members, have video chats with others from around the world.

To continue the growth of each school, and finding ways to use technology in the classroom, teachers also learned more about "flipping" their curriculum in the classroom. Flipping is a teaching style in which students watch curriculum-related videos at home, then do homework, projects or have discussions in the classroom about the videos, allowing more one-on-one time with students, and inspiring more student participation.

According to teacher Denise Woodward, flipping part of her curriculum has had great results in the classroom. Kolesar said he would like to see more teachers begin to flip their curricula.

"I would like to see us start on this," Kolesar said. "Some of you are going to be flipping quickly, if you haven't flipped your curriculum already. We can provide the technology, but you need to utilize it and change how you teach, so we can better meet the needs of all kids in the school district."

The top-to-bottom ranking by the Michigan Department of Education was released recently, and the Ironwood Area Schools fared well, according to Kolesar.

"The Ironwood Area Schools is a wireless environment with the latest technology that allows our teachers to change the way they have taught in the past," Kolesar said. "The top-to-bottom rankings is proof that the use of appropriate technology and teaching strategies can make a big difference."

Sleight Elementary was named a "reward school," and was one of three elementary schools in the 94th percentile in the state. Sleight was also one of eight schools honored as a "reward school" in the Upper Peninsula.

Norrie Elementary (grades three through sixth) and Luther L. Wright School both improved their places from last year. Norrie was named a "focus school" last year after placing in the 23rd percentile, but finished in the 72nd percentile this year.

LLW worked its way up from the 30th percentile to the 43rd this year.

"Our goal is to get better year after year," Kolesar said. "We're extremely happy with our growth at this time. Teachers are realizing their hard work is paying off and kids are benefitting from their efforts."