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Grade students get iPads

Kenmare school board members got their hands on the district’s new iPads Monday night during their regular January meeting as staff members DeVonne Hanson, Tami McNeiley and Terese Skjordal discussed plans for the $100,000 the school received as a competitive federal Title IID grant to enhance education through technology.

1/12/11 (Wed)

 
Getting their hands on technology . . . Kenmare school board
member Jan Kostad, front, tries one of the new iPads that
will be available for student use in the elementary school. 
The devices were purchased iwth part of a $100,000 federal
Title IID technology grant the district was awarded in November,
and teachers will be trained to develop lessons for students
using the iPads.  Behind Kostad, board member Craig Ellsworth
and Superintendent Duane Mueller work with the devices,
with business manager Renae Murphy and high school principal
Scott Faul in the background.

 
 
By Caroline Downs
 
Kenmare school board members got their hands on the district’s new iPads Monday night during their regular January meeting as staff members DeVonne Hanson, Tami McNeiley and Terese Skjordal discussed plans for the $100,000 the school received as a competitive federal Title IID grant to enhance education through technology.
 
Twenty of these grants were awarded to eligible North Dakota schools.
 
Hanson explained that much of the funding will be directed toward professional development expenses as teachers work with the North Dakota Education Technology Services (EduTech) and Apple representatives through the InStep program.
 
“What we want to do with [the iPads] is aligned with No Child Left Behind and our state standards,” Hanson said. “Sawyer and South Prairie also got iPads, so we’re going to be able to work with them, too.”
 
The three women will be the Computer Technology Partners, or CTPs, for the district, and will be expected to assist the district’s other teachers and monitor their progress in learning to implement the iPads with students.
 
The grant allowed the district to buy 30 iPads for use at Kenmare Elementary School and 30 iPads for use in grades 4-6 at Kenmare High School, along with 3 iPads for the CTPs. The devices have 16 gigabytes of memory and are the new 4.2.1 version of that model. Through the professional development training, teachers will learn ways to integrate the iPads into daily assignments and activities for the students, especially during reading classes where teachers can target individual needs and skill levels with the devices.
 
McNeiley was excited about the training component of the grant. “We’re saving our school system a substantial amount of money to provide training to these teachers,” she said.
 
She pointed out that 10,000 education applications are available free of charge for the iPads, with more in development all the time. Also, the current reading textbook series in use at Kenmare Elementary School has apps available for iPads as well as a website with even more resources for the teachers.
 
 “We’re helping develop lessons around technology,” McNeiley said, “and we want to emphasize not just the iPads, but the Activboards we have, too.”
 
As Skjordal and Hanson distributed the still-packaged iPads for the board’s use, members laughed as they figured out how to turn on and navigate the devices. McNeiley demonstrated a basic phonics lesson that would be used in kindergarten, and board members tried some of the other pre-loaded applications, too, including a math game.
 
McNeiley also described ways the iPads would benefit students in high school and beyond and talked about options for Internet use the district would have to consider in the future, especially for research and access to free applications such as Public Television documentaries related to classroom lessons.
 
“Our students can’t wait to get their hands on these,” Skjordal said as she collected the iPads back from board members. “They’ve been asking every day. They know they’re here!”
 
More information about the InStep program the district will be coordinating with EduTech can be found online at www.blogs.edutech.nodak.edu/ndctp. The Kenmare CTPs promised to keep the board and the Curriculum & Technology Committee informed of the teachers’ and students’ progress with the iPads.
 
“This is some of the most exciting news for our school,” board president Lenny Rodin said. “Kudos to you guys. You’ve done a lot of work on this, and this goes back to our goal of being one of the top school districts in the state.”
 
Longer school day next year
The school day at Kenmare High School may get extended by 10 minutes next year in order to better match the ITV course schedule.
 
Principal Scott Faul explained the need for the change. “Our ITV lab is booked for periods 2 through 6, and these are full-year classes,” he said. “I’d like to see our day match the ITV day. Right now, some kids have to leave classes early to get to an ITV class, or they arrive late from a ITV class.”
 
The ITV daily schedule runs from 8:30 am until 3:15 pm. The current school day at KHS begins at 8:40 am and ends at 3:15 pm.
 
“As our ITV classes get bigger and bigger, it affects more and more kids,” said Faul. “Next year, we could be looking at using that room for periods 1 through 6.”
 
He intends to begin preregistration for the 2011-2012 school year by mid-February in order to build a course schedule for the year.
 
Faul and the high school teachers are also reviewing the role and usefulness of study hall periods for students.
 
“It doesn’t seem like the students are using the study halls in the best possible ways,” Faul said. “Many schools have gone away from study halls all together.”
 
He noted that decisions about the school day schedule and study halls for next year would be made in the coming weeks. Board members pointed out that a change in the start time for the school day would have to be included in the negotiated agreement with teachers, but they supported Faul’s idea of matching the daily class schedule with the ITV schedule.
 
Sports co-ops
Faul provided an update to the board about progress made regarding the proposed softball and baseball cooperative agreements with the Bowbells and MLS school districts.
 
“The softball co-op application has been completed and sent in,” he said, adding that the ND High School Activities Association had a question about whether the new team would play a varsity schedule against other western teams from Minot, Dickinson and Williston, or a less formal junior varsity schedule against Class B schools throughout the state.
 
“The dilemma is, we have a lot of juniors and seniors who want to play,” he said. “What if we’re good?”
 
Board members laughed, but they agreed Faul should continue to discuss the matter with administrators from Bowbells and MLS to make a decision.
 
Faul learned the proposed baseball co-op between Kenmare-Bowbells and MLS would likely not receive approval because the application deadline had passed, even though Kenmare was willing to pay the late fee for the application to be considered. He also noted the MLS school board was scheduled to meet this week and would be discussing the application at that time.
 
“And our numbers for baseball have gone up,” he said, listing one seventh grader, three eighth graders and seven high school students who wanted to play from Kenmare, as well as two committed players and two more potential team members from Bowbells.
 
“Looking at the list, I feel confident in that group,” he said, citing the experience several players already had on the high school team and the Midgets and Babe Ruth experience of the younger players.
 
Faul also talked about seventh and eighth grade students playing on the high school teams. “Our junior high [enrollment] numbers are less than 50 now,” he said, “so we can move students up to the high school teams and those students can still come back and play on their junior high team during that season.”
 
The KHS girls basketball team will soon have eighth graders playing, and Faul noted the boys basketball team had already done so, with the 7th and 8th grade boys regular season slated to begin games in February.
 
In other business:
• The board approved June 14, 2011, as the date for the school board election. Positions held by Jan Kostad and David King will be up for election to three-year terms.
 
• Board members who announced their plans to attend the North Dakota School Boards Association Negotiations Seminar in Bismarck February 3-5 included Rodin, King, Roger Johnson, along with Superintendent Duane Mueller.
 
• The date of school board retreat was rescheduled for Wednesday, March 9, beginning at 8:30 am at Kenmare High School. Possible topics for the day’s discussions include the district’s technology needs, a mill levy to increase the technology budget, and building issues and priorities. The public is welcome to attend the session.
 
• Superintendent Mueller announced the floors in the new science classrooms were finished and all teachers moved into their assigned classrooms as of Monday. He noted several items that still needed to be addressed, including the installation of light switches in the library and controlling the 90-degree temperatures in three of the Phase I classrooms, along with some finishing touches and clean-up. “I’ve asked the teachers to start a list of things they notice in their classrooms,” he said. “The big thing is, we’re in the rooms.” An open house to allow the public to tour the renovated classrooms will be scheduled for a later time.
 
• Mueller also reported the three-year asbestos inspection was scheduled for January 11th and that he had started working on the 2011-2012 school calendar. ITV classes will begin broadcasting August 22nd, and Mueller intended to begin the school year on that date.
 
• Mueller announced that third graders who participated in Mrs. McNeiley’s second grade enrichment class last year would be taking a trip to Bismarck on January 21st to testify at a committee hearing for a bill they submitted to designate the ladybug as the state insect for North Dakota. According to Mueller, the students wrote the proposal after completing a research project about ladybugs and drafted the bill with assistance from Rep. Glen Froseth of Kenmare.
 
• The Curriculum & Technology Committee, with members Craig Ellsworth, King and Johnson, will meet on Monday, February 7th, at 8:30 am.
 
• The Negotiations & Finance Committee, with members Rodin, Mike Zimmer and Kostad, will meet Monday, February 7th, at 9:30 am.
 
• The next regular meeting of the Kenmare school board was scheduled for Tuesday, February 8th, at 8:30 am. All three meetings will take place at Kenmare High School.