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Edwardsville schools installing Whiteboard systems
[December 17, 2012]

Edwardsville schools installing Whiteboard systems

EDWARDSVILLE, Dec 17, 2012 (The Telegraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The first phase of the Edwardsville School District's yearlong upgrade of Technology for the 21st Century Classroom Initiative has been completed with the installation of 75 PolyVision Whiteboard systems.

Another 50 units have been ordered and will be installed by the end of the month. Fifty additional systems will be ordered monthly from January through May, which will allow for installation in all of the district's 370 classrooms to be completed by the beginning of school in August 2013.

"The PolyVision boards give us one more instructional tool to help our teachers provide the kind of instruction that provides authentic, interactive learning opportunities," District Superintendent Ed Hightower said.

Hightower said he has been pleased with the community's response to the initiative.

"The reaction from donors, teachers, students and parents has been outstanding," he said. "We will have installed nearly one-third of the PolyVision systems by December 30th, 2012." Hightower noted that the installation of the PolyVision systems comes at the perfect time, as the district has begun the transition to the new Common Core Standards and PARCC assessment system, which will be implemented during the 2014-2015 school year.

A key feature of the new benchmarks are fewer, clearer and higher academic standards. As a result, teachers must provide more in-depth instruction, and students will be required to think more critically and gain a deeper understanding of the content, he said.

While more than $500,000 of the $1 million needed to purchase the systems comes from private donors, school PTOs also have stepped up with contributions to facilitate the district-wide installation.

"The District 7 elementary PTOs expect to contribute an estimated $62,000 toward the Technology for the 21st Century Classroom Initiative by the close of the 2012-13 school year," Hightower said. "There are 10 PTOs that serve District 7's 10 elementary schools.

Columbus Elementary PTO President Kristen Pfund said the district's initiative coordinated with their PTO's goal to purchase a projector for each classroom.

"It's what we've been saving for, so when the district announced its initiative to combine projectors and PolyVision boards for each classroom, it created a win-win situation," Pfund said. "We were able to help our school and, at the same time, help our district.

"This technology promotes interaction with the teacher and other students," she said. "Still, it's easy to see how the PolyVision boards will provide a good foundation on which to build when one-to-one technology begins to be introduced." The district has assembled a team of 61 kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers to serve as trainers and mentors in each building. The team completed Module 1 of PolyVision training last week, Module 2 will be completed by the end of December, and Module 3 will be completed in January.

Once the trainers have completed Modules 1 through 3, each school's team will begin offering school-based training for their colleagues. The trainers at each school also will act as mentors and trouble-shoot when the need arises.

The Teacher Institute, scheduled for Feb. 15, will have a technology focus; the teacher trainers will work with the administration to develop the workshops offered. Course-specific, single-topic workshops will be offered in the spring.

The district's Technology Department also is working with teachers to evaluate components and applications that will work in conjunction with the systems to provide for the most effective and efficient use of the technology possible.

Wireless tablets are being evaluated for teacher and student use with the whiteboard, Hightower said.

"The key to the success of this initiative is bringing teachers on board and providing them with the resources and training they need to incorporate the PolyVision IWB technology into their daily instruction," Hightower said. "The district will provide ongoing training and support to ensure that teachers and their students are able to utilize the technology to its maximum benefit." ___ (c)2012 The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.) Visit The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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