Chester County Press : Page 8

“Big Screen” learning premiers at AGHS Pileggi visits to “flip the switch” on technology

Carla Lucas

“Technology is changing how teaching is being done,” said Assistant Principal Jane Hershberger to State Senator Dominic Pileggi, as they walked down the hall to observe a mathematics class at Avon Grove High School. <br /> <br /> Pileggi visited Avon Grove High School on Friday, March 30, to officially “flip the switch” to the new technology that is beginning to be used in mathematics and English classrooms. <br /> <br /> This new technology is part of a $158,473 Classrooms for the Future grant awarded to Avon Grove last fall. The grant included funds for hardware, software, professional development programs, and a half-day technology coach. <br /> <br /> The high school was one of 79 Pennsylvania schools (out of 189 that applied) selected to participate during the program’s first year. <br /> <br /> “By equipping classrooms with smart technology components, we are hoping to raise student achievement by teaching our kids the way they want to be taught—the way that they already learn,” said Hershberger, who also wrote the grant application. “By utilizing the equipment and platforms that our students already prefer to use to communicate, we hope to be able to engage their curiosity and encourage them to go further with their learning “Big Screen” learning premiers at AGHS Pileggi visits to “flip the switch” on technology experiences as they develop 21st century skills.” Since receiving the grant, AGHS has installed 24 Promethean Activeboards (interactive whiteboards that allow teachers and students to interact between a computer and the whiteboard using a special electronic pen), 18 LCD overhead projectors, and 24 laptop computers for the English and mathematics teachers to use with the Promethean Activeboards. A total of 90 laptop computers (30 each on three mobile computer labs) for students to use in the English and mathematics classroom were also part of the grant. <br /> <br /> Twenty-five instructional software titles were purchased. <br /> <br /> On the tour of the school, Pileggi watched as mathematics teacher Jesse Stevens used a Promethean Activeboard in her lessons on prime numbers for her Introduction to Algebra students. As part of the lesson, students were able to solve problems on the Promethean Activeboard from a prepared worksheet that was projected onto the whiteboard from an LCD projector mounted in the ceiling. The teacher can save the solutions back to the computer for future reference. <br /> <br /> “My lessons can be more visual and more engaging, said English teacher Todd Weimer as he demonstrated how a vocabulary list can be enhanced with smart technology. For example, one of the words on the vocabulary list was “dirge.” The written definition appeared, then a photograph of a funeral/casket, and also an auditory example of a dirge was played. “It’s like building a better mousetrap. <br /> <br /> It helps my students that are auditory learners and visual learners. It is about studentcentered instruction.” In introducing Avon Grove’s Classrooms for the Future Technology Coach Christine Hurley, Hershberger said, “We can put all this stuff in our classrooms, but if it doesn’t have a person to teach us how to use it, the hardware and software is useless.” “It’s what we do with the stuff. I call it big screen learning,” emphasized Hurley in another demonstration on the way the new equipment can be used in combination with interactive websites and the resources teachers can use to enhance the curriculum with technology. “We find ways to incorporate technology easily into what teachers are already doing in the classroom.” Hurley said that she has found in the short time she has been working with teachers that the younger teachers know the technology and how to use it and the older teachers know the curriculum and how to teach it. <br /> <br /> The groups have been working together cooperatively to create lesson plans that integrate the technology into the classroom for all the students’ benefit. <br /> <br /> “I commend the administration and teachers for making the extra effort to use technology to improve their teaching effectiveness,” said Pileggi. <br /> <br /> “The teachers are excited and the students see that excitement in their teachers. It (produces) better results.” On funding or increasing funding for more Classroom for the Future programs, Pileggi said, “We have a $2 billion deficit in a (proposed) $26 billion budget. It will be challenging to close that deficit and increase funding. We are in the beginning stages of the process and trying to keep a proper balance in K-12 education basic funding. <br /> <br /> My priority is to adequately fund current programs before expanding to provide new programs.”

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