WHS uses grants to increase student involvement
by Mark Andrews
Mar 17, 2011 | 3087 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Woodland High School student Austin Elder reviews what he has learned about using an iPad with his statistics teacher Carrie Maddox. Maddox purchased the iPad through a Bartow Education Foundation teacher grant. Work done on the iPad can be projected on the wall for the class to view or uploaded to the Web. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Woodland High School student Austin Elder reviews what he has learned about using an iPad with his statistics teacher Carrie Maddox. Maddox purchased the iPad through a Bartow Education Foundation teacher grant. Work done on the iPad can be projected on the wall for the class to view or uploaded to the Web. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Woodland High School this year received 12 grants totaling more than $5,800 from the Bartow Education Foundation's Teacher Grant program to be used with the overall intent of increasing student involvement and improving daily experience -- often through the use of technology.

Teachers Carrie Maddox and Bryan McCoury both received grants for iPad tablet computers to be used during instruction and for student participation.

Maddox teaches math and advanced placement statistics while McCoury teaches social studies, but both have similar goals and teaching methods when using their iPad.

For example, Maddox said students become more involved by passing around the iPad and taking notes during class.

"[The iPad] is better for whole class involvement," Maddox said. "Anything technology-related [students] want to be a part of, and they like to help each other out with what's been said."

She said afterward the class can post the notes online in case a student is absent or needs to look at the information written in a different way.

"A teacher is very good at breaking things down into basic parts, but even a teacher's basic idea of something isn't the same as how a student thinks of it," Maddox said. "If you have a student explaining [what the teacher said] in their own words, it might make more sense."

McCoury said the grant for his iPad has allowed him to supplement lessons with educational material by downloading books and streaming video to be shown on a projector. He said students will also pass around the iPad and, for example, take supplemental history quizzes online.

"I use it in whole group settings and small group settings, too," McCoury said. "[Students] all want to handle it and they all want to use it."

He said having students use the tablet informs them of the educational capabilities of a device that also has a fun side, like video games and general Web browsing.

"[The iPad] is kind of a toy, but it is also a very powerful tool," McCoury said.

Tammy Queen is the head of the English department at WHS and received a grant to be used toward a scanner and software to help students build an electronic portfolio.

She said student portfolios allow teachers to set benchmarks for progress so the following year teachers will have a point of reference as to a student's strengths and weaknesses the prior year. She said an electronic portfolio also will help students prepare for college.

"Hopefully not only will [students] see their progress, but they will note their own mistakes and that will help them as they get ready for college, so [the portfolio] is not just for teachers."

Queen said the electronic portfolio project has been "in the works" for years and that it will take some time to meet the needs of all students.

"[The grant] is the first step, and hopefully it will help us eventually prevent things like plagiarism," Queen said, "but right now the main reason is the electronic portfolio because everything is going electronic now."

Dot Frasier, director of the Bartow Education Foundation, explained the grant program also provides funds to improve the student experience outside of the classroom.

Cindy Thomas is the lunchroom manager at WHS. She received a grant to be used toward improving the lunch experience for students and staff by implementing the use of radios for staff communication and by providing informational posters for students.

Thomas said the radios allow her to effectively solve routine lunch problems without taking up too much of a student's lunch time and that the posters also ease the lunch process by providing menu and nutrition information.

"I also get to talk to the students and explain to them more about the lunch choices they have," Thomas said.

Principal Melissa Williams said it was important for teachers, staff and the community to be involved with the program because it is a simple way to help fund classroom improvements.

"I think the grant program in its entirety is an awesome way to supplement school resources," Williams said.

She said she was excited the program allows teachers to be involved in the process of improving classrooms and student activity and encouraged teachers to opt-in to a monthly paycheck deduction to go into the grant program.

"A little investment each month can really go a long way," Williams said.