Fulton School Board hears about technology, budget

Over the past several years, technology has taken on increasingly larger role in the classroom.

During Wednesday night’s Fulton School Board meeting, elementary teachers Casey Echelmeier, Brandi Hassien and Erica Hogan, and a few of their students, shared how they have been using technology recently to change the teaching and learning that goes on in their classrooms. All three educators have been part of a program by district Technology Director Dan Hedgpath’s plan to integrate Chromebooks into the classroom. Echelmeier teaches fourth grade at McIntire Elementary, Hassien teaches third grade at Bush Elementary and Hogan teaches third grade at Bartley Elementary. All three have been able to have every student in their class have a Chromebook.

They said advantages the Chromebooks have provided to students include:

•Increased portability/flexibility.

•Collaboration — not just between classmates but from building to building and even with a class in Boston.

•Students are able to work at their own pace and time — Echelmeier said that before, with a 2-to-1 student-to-computer ratio with more expensive computers, there were time limits for students to work on the machines.

“I’ve been seeing even my lowest-level learners grow because they’re no longer feeling pressure to hurry,” Echelmeier said.

One student added that, “We can now work at our own pace and time on different apps, and the teachers can see what we’re struggling with.”

•Personalized learning through Google apps.

•Students are able to do more because they have access to more resources.

The teachers said having the Chromebooks has transformed instruction time, enabling teachers to use them for:

•Small group instruction for reading and writing.

•Peer/teacher editing in writing.

•Providing immediate feedback.

•Increased assessment opportunities.

Echelmeier, Hassien and Hogan said using the Chromebooks has made them transform and evolve the way they teach to better suit their students’ needs.

“We’re building them up for 21st Century skills,” Echelmeier said. “These are things they’re going to have to be able to do in the future.”

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