GCSC meeting filled with 1:1 success

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Among a series of items discussed at its monthly meeting Monday, two presentations reined supreme: the success of cutting edge abilities provided by the 1:1 integration and the McAnally roofing project.

A separate story covering the McAnally project was published in Wednesday's edition of the Banner Graphic and can be found HERE .

The meeting started out with an in-depth demonstration of the many uses of iPads in the classroom, a task that has been two years in the making, with assistant superintendent Jeff Hubble taking the lead on the project over that time.

Chemistry teacher Kristin Phillips thanked the board for being allowed time over the summer to work with the new technology and corresponding software and lauded the abilities that she can now use in the classroom.

Appropriately, Phillips powered up her iPad and connected wirelessly to a projector to present the many ways in which she is taking advantage of a modern classroom.

Phillips presented the process to the board and attendees in the same way that a student would go through working on an assignment using the technology.

First, a document was shared through Google Drive, an online file storage database, and then pulled into a program called Notability.

Notability allows users to open a variety of different documents and to actually "write" on them using the iPad as opposed to traditional word processing programs that only allow for the input of text from a keyboard.

Freeing teachers and students up from the constrictions of word-processing programs allows for annotations, sketches, diagrams, notes and a more natural method of responding to questions overall; albeit through a touch-screen device.

Once students have completed an assignment they turn them in electronically.

"Chemistry one is ready to go paperless," Phillips said happily.

A major benefit that Phillips explained of going paperless isn't just saving trees, it is providing access to all documents and lessons for test preparation.

No more lost papers, misfiled documents, test reviews eaten by the dog or otherwise; it's all online and archived for study.

Phillips continued her demonstration by showing how she and her students use iPads directly in the classroom environment. Using various applications and programs, she can administer short quizzes at the end of classes to ask students what was covered in class that day, upload photographs of any handwritten images or notes and is even able to help progress student debate by allowing for students to make comments via their iPads.

In one case, a student in Phillips' class who is known for being correct had made the claim that sugar dissolving in water is a chemical reaction, but another student disagreed. When Phillips asked the student why they disagreed, the student didn't want to challenge the assertion made by the "smart kid in class." In situations such as that, Phillips can enable anonymous comments in a group discussion, allowing that student to say why they disagree without a participation excuse.

All in all, the presentations showed that the 1:1 program is already a success in many areas as the school begins its first few weeks with the technology.

With technology still on the discussion table, Hubble brought forth a plan for the school's data coordinator, retired teacher Diana Callahan, to develop an app that could potentially save Greencastle schools a great sum of teacher-hours that are currently spent entering data into spreadsheets.

The board approved a one year contract that would allow Callahan, with a little help from her daughter, to utilize her current access to GCSC's data in order to develop a system which would automatically input the appropriate data into a spreadsheet instead of needing teachers and/or a data coordinator to do so manually.

The app is expected to take one to two years to develop and at the end of the process, if the project is successful, the app would remain the intellectual property of Callahan, allowing her to do with it what she desires.

In exchange, GCSC would receive lifetime use and service of the application for free.

The goal is to create an "auto-Diana," Hubble joked.

In the end, if Callahan's app became a huge success, the school would receive free service and use for an efficient data management program, although they would not be entitled to any of the profits.

If the project is not a success, the school loses nothing as Callahan is still operating as the data coordinator to manage digital documents for the school.

"Her heart is with the kids and the data," Hubble said about Callahan and her project.

The board heard a report on the summer food program from director of food services Debbie Carrico.

"All in all the program went well," Carrico told the board while discussing attendance numbers of the program.

A total of 6,728 individuals were fed breakfast and/or lunch during the months of June and July.

A student achievement report was presented by Hubble which outlined student test scores in math, science, English/language arts, social studies and science.

Biology and English scores from 2010 to 2014 have risen, with English rising substantially while algebra scores have fallen slightly over that same time period.

In other business:

* The school board presented a 2015 bus replacement plan and a 2015 capital projects fund plan as a matter of public hearing formality.

* The board approved receiving a $500 donation from Denise and Jeff Sigworth and a donation from Steel Scraping in the amount of $1,279.

* The board approved the hiring of a variety of faculty and staff, including Victoria Parker as a temporary teacher for Donovan Wheeler at GHS; Gwen Morris as temporary administrative support at Tzouanakis Intermediate; a transfer from GHS to Greencastle Middle School as cafeteria assistant for Lisa Smith; Billie Jo Bumgardner as cafeteria assistant at GHS; Barbara Meyers as cafeteria assistant at Tzouanakis Intermediate; Sue Haberle as cafeteria assistant at Tzouanakis Intermediate; Sherry Hansell as part-time custodian at GHS and Victor DeCarlo, Whitney Ray, Debra Sabin, Catharine Simmerman and Chrissy Baker were all approved as subsitute teachers.

* The board also approved the hiring of Tonya Welker as eighth-grade volleyball coach at GHS; Whitney Ray as seventh-grade volleyball coach at GMS; Jane Roberson as math department chairman at GMS and Rob Frank as volunteer cross country coach at Tzouanakis Intermediate.

* Resingations were approved for Isabel Rochas as art teacher at Deer Meadow Primary and Ridpath Elementary; Irene Mongaraz as cafeteria assistant at Tzouanakis Intermediate and Tonya Bearman as school bus driver for Greencastle Community Schools.

The Greencastle Community School Corporation holds monthly board meetings at 7 p.m. on the third Monday of each month.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at Ridpath Primary School.

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