District 50 shows off new technology at open house Thursday

Jennifer Freeman
Eighth-grader Sandy Baker demonstrates how to use the stylus of the interactive white board.

Shawn Armstrong, a soon-to-be fourth grader, was not impressed by the interactive white board in Alicia Sturm’s eighth-grade classroom at Beverly Manor School.

“I’ve been using computers since I was 3,” he said.

But his father, Bill Armstrong, said the technology displayed at the District 50 Technology Open House Thursday night was “tremendous.”

Armstrong said he attended the event to see what resources Shawn’s future classrooms would have.

“It’s nice to see this district has cutting-edge technology as opposed to just using traditional equipment and teaching methods,” he said.

The open house showcased the many technological additions to District 50 classrooms thanks to several grants, including one from the Illinois State Board of Education for $258,750 and about $53,000 of pooled federal grants.

The money has provided iPod Touches, document projectors, lap tops, video cameras, interactive white boards and quick response clickers to almost every classroom in both John L. Hensey School and Beverly Manor School.

While the innovative technology keeps the students engaged, District 50 Superintendent Susan Dudley said the biggest advantage is the software that comes with the technology.

This, she said, is especially true of the quick response clickers, which each student uses to answer a question asked to the entire class.

“It tells the teacher which child is consistently wrong,” she said.

With this information, teachers can better tailor their teaching as well as know when to intervene with extra tutoring for a struggling student.

The excitement over the newest technology in District 50 was clear in Sturm’s classroom as eighth-graders MacGyver Hoferkamp, Drake Nofsinger and Sandy Baker demonstrated how the interactive white board, an iPod Touch and a graphing calculator can work together.

With a special “pen” and small tablet, Baker went into the hallway where she started writing.

Although she couldn’t see it, the parents watching in the classroom were able to see the writing on the interactive white board.

While there may not be many instances where a teacher or student needs to write from the hallway, Sturm said the board is the most useful for presentations.

“I have used it everyday since I got it. It is so convenient to be able to give presentations and write on the board and then be able to print it,” Sturm said.

The goal, according to Dudley, is for students to not stop interacting with technology when they get to school.

“It’s all designed to get students prepared for the workforce where they will use advanced technology,” she said.