Technology is a necessary and integral component of any educational curriculum in existing times. More than ever, we need to prepare our students with skills in technology to help them effortlessly engage in higher education environments or qualify for the existing job market. Curriculum at West Jefferson Hills School District is infused with technology. Applications of technology range from assisting students with special needs to meet state and federal standards to developing basic and advanced skills of all our students while improving their general attitude to learning. Technology is a hands-on tool that helps all learning styles. Students who learn best from listening, seeing, or doing will always find some component of technology available to help them understand and express themselves. Our faculty continue to improve their skills in technology through regular staff development opportunities and the technology department determinedly pursues a policy of providing our students and staff with reliable and updated computing environments. There are numerous examples at all school levels in our district where technology is being applied to improve the educational experience of our students. A few of these include:
- Several of the teachers have web pages, which are regularly updated to provide the students with online notes, guides, activities, and course information.
- Students consistently use Microsoft Office to create documents, presentations, and web pages. For example, many of the senior projects are done as PowerPoint presentations and are quite good in their content and flow.
- Applications such as Boxer Math, Geometer’s Sketchpad, Microsoft Excel, United Streaming, SAT and ACT Prep, and general on-line research tools are used by students to help them grasp difficult concepts and practice their newfound knowledge.
- Curriculum at the High School offers courses in Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD), java programming, web page development, Adobe Photoshop, and other areas of applied technology.
- As with the High School, Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works are extensively used by the students to create word processing and presentation documents.
- Dedicated wireless laptops are used by students to access the Internet and the network anytime, anyplace. These laptops, in conjunction with remediation software like NCS Learn SuccessMaker, provide students requiring specialized or basic skill development an opportunity to improve their attainment of state standards and district curricular expectations.
- Computer labs are used by students for research, review, document creation, conceptual development, and creative / critical thinking skill enhancement. Some of the programs available in the computer labs include, Microsoft Encarta, Crossword and Search-a-Word, Carmen San Diego, ChessMaster, Oregon Trail, SAT Trainer, and software accompanying student text-books.
- The Middle School is also utilizing technology to create handbooks, digital photos and videos, and multimedia presentations.
- Computers are used to run assistive, research, and creativity development software such as the Waterford Reading Program, NCS Learn SuccessMaker, KidPix, Hyperstudio, Timeliner, Microsoft Encarta, Encyclopedia Britannia Online, Treasure Math Storm, Math Blaster, Interactive Fizz and Martina software, Picture Phonics, Microsoft Works, Student Writing Center, Magic school Bus, Print Shop, Oregon Trail, Word Munchers, Harcourt Brace Mighty Math modules, and Microsoft Paint.
- A number of teachers have lively and remarkable web pages that are updated often with relevant information, student assignments, and on-line activities.
- Students have scheduled sessions in the labs throughout the week. Activities in the lab can range from research, document or presentation creation, skill development exercises, and working with programs that develop creative and critical thinking abilities.
- Technology is also used by the teachers to create banners, cards, certificates, worksheets, and assignments. For example, teachers use Math Companion to create math worksheets, puzzles, etc. In addition, Peterson Font has been installed on all computers and is used to create worksheets to improve handwriting skills.
- Internet Explorer and MS Encarta Encyclopedia are used regularly for research and exploration. For instance, during their study of Anasazi Indians, third graders visit a website that takes them on a virtual tour of a kiva. They take a tour of the White House and explore what it is like to be president for the day. Other Social Studies related sites include Japan, Vietnam, and Plymouth Plantation.
- Mobile devices and laptops are either present or being ordered to provide the students with access to software and online resources outside of the classroom or lab environments.
Along with above specific examples, classrooms in all schools have a computer attached to a television such that the contents of the computer monitor can be displayed on the television. This is great tool for group instruction and displaying the work of individual students to the entire class. Smartboards are also available to teachers to instruct the students using the computer without having to be near the computer.
Technology is an integral component of K-12 curriculum at West Jefferson Hills School District. As an instructional tool, technology has been shown to improve students’ achievement and their orientation to learning. For a relatively small cost per year per student, we are providing valuable tools for both our faculty and students to maximize their productivity and potential and to position our district to become a leader in utilizing technology appropriately in instruction and learning.