|Courtesy of www.thereviewcrew.com|
By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
No one is going to mistake Michigan Center as a traditional “old school” district much longer if the action taken Monday is any indication.
The school board unanimously approved proposals totaling up to $132,000 for a collection of iPads, new desktop and laptop computers, and a district-wide security system upgrade.
Superintendent David Tebo said he felt like a “proud dad” seeing how the district is making use of money it has been budgeting in its technology fund the past couple of years.
The district is purchasing 20 iPads, Apple’s trendy touch-screen tablet computers, for use in its four sixth-grade classrooms. The purchase is a byproduct of innovative thinking after staff members spent two days with an Apple Professional Development team.
Tebo said the sixth-grade teachers are truly “a professional learning community” and they spend a lot of planning time together discussing ways to better educate students.
“They’ve already planned out two units that will be cross-curricular with social studies, reading, writing and science all embedded in them,” Tebo said. “It’s ready to go.
“(Students) will learn not in the traditional manner, but it’s about giving them a challenge and the tools and freedom to grow and show what they learned in a more authentic way — better than high-stakes standardized tests.”
The $12,000 budget for the initiative also includes the possibility of purchasing several MacBook laptops, portable camcorders and an array of iPad applications.
Tebo said if the iPad experience is beneficial, the district will consider ways to implement similar learning strategies into seventh- to 12th-grade curriculum in the future.
The district also will benefit from the $40,000 allotted for upgrades of 6- to 9-year-old computers. Tebo said computers will be added and replaced in the Arnold Elementary School lab because there aren’t enough to facilitate larger classes.
Some classrooms throughout the district will also have new units installed.
“The worst thing that can happen in a school district is getting teachers to use (new tools) and then when they go to use them (on out-dated computers) they don’t work,” Tebo said.
The largest chunk of money — up to $80,000 — is going toward a new swipe-card system and security cameras at all Michigan Center schools.
The district will partner with the Jackson County Intermediate School District and utilize Secure Alarm services for the foreseeable future.