Before classes resumed earlier this month, the Warren County School District Technology Department had spent the summer working to add or upgrade several projects critical to the operation of the district.
"Our department has worked very hard to prepare and implement these initiatives, and it is exciting to the students and teachers to begin to utilize the additions and improvements," said Amy Stewart, director of instructional technology and communications for the district.
Four new programs were implemented, including MyLunchMoney.com, Read 180, Airliners, and Language Arts SMART boards, which seem to be a favorite among educators.
"I can say that the project we are hearing about most frequently in the Language Arts SMART boards at the secondary level," said Stewart. "These teachers are implementing a new curriculum and are able to be integrating the SMART boards at the same time."
Each middle and high school classroom in the district is now outfitted with SMART boards. According to Stewart, they provide more media and hands-on learning experience as well as being engaging with students of all grade ranges and abilities.
Airliners are another SMART board product now being tested in classrooms.
"These products place the technology in a hand-held 'tablet' device instead of at the front of the room in the SMART board," explained Stewart. "The airliner can be passed around the room from student to student and student responses are projected in the front of the room."
The devices are going to be signed out by all teachers in the district as they request them.
"We are anxious to see the student response," said Stewart.
A program that Stewart said she is "very excited about" is MyLunchMoney.com, which provides parents website access to information about their child's breakfast and lunch program.
"Parents can deposit money with a credit card from home, check their child's balance and see what kinds of purchases their child is making," said Stewart.
A program geared toward assisting middle- and secondary-level students who struggle with reading comprehension is Read 180.
"It has a multi-modal approach as the students move through three different rotations within the class," said Diane Martin, director of special education for the district.
The program offers intensive and individualized reading instruction through data-driven technology, teacher directed instruction in whole and small groups and leveled reading materials that reflect the interests and age of the students.
"The district technology department provided impressive support during this process and during the implementation of this new program," said Martin.
Read 180 is being implemented at the secondary level and is scheduled to be implemented at the middle school level for the 2010-2011 school year.
Among the district upgrades were NovaNet, a web-based program for various subjects that will now provide additional and upgraded courses for students, and the combination of new and old Successmaker licensing, which will benefit students in the area of reading.
"The students will find it more engaging and the content has really improved," said Stewart.
All district servers were updated and all computers reimaged, both part of "annual maintenance to provide a computing environment that is more reliable for students and staff," said Stewart.
Also upgraded was the program Destiny, an newer version of Follette Software that helps manage the district library collections. Stewart said the library curriculum coordinator reported that the system is "much more streamlined and that the new librarians and the students are really benefiting from the new interface."