Archive for November, 2009

It Takes Teamwork!

Posted on November 19, 2009. Filed under: General |

By Fran Mauney

As we prepare for the Upstate Technology Conference, I am reminded of the importance of teamwork and how crucial it is that we work together to improve student achievement in our schools. As a teacher, I see the importance of working with others who have experienced success in the classroom.  Research shows that grade level planning and sharing creative ideas  positively impacts student achievement.  As a teacher, I enjoy learning from the experts in the field and I can’t wait to implement the newest technology tool or research findings when I work with students. I look forward to the Upstate Technology Conference each year because it is led by some of the most dynamic teachers and leaders in our area. These teachers inspire me to try new techniques that motivate students to learn while positively impacting achievement.  In Greenville County Schools, we are fortunate that we have an outstanding team of experts who work with Educational Technology Services in systems support, instructional technology, and administrative computing.  These professionals are part of the team that improves instruction in our school system. How often do we take for granted that we have computers in our classrooms or phones in each room or several interactive whiteboards in our schools? As I travel around the state, I’m always reminded of how fortunate we are to have the latest technology and I’m grateful for the resources we have available in Greenville County schools.  For example, Greenville County has our own Help Desk with four engineers who help remotely without having to travel to the schools which provides much faster service. We are fortunate to have technicians in the field who handle hardware, software,  infrastructure cabling, servers, switchers, phones, wireless access, Promethean or SMARTboard troubleshooting.  There are 11 network technicians in the field and 1 engineer that supports 30,000 PCs. All of these professionals are basically behind the scenes each day and aren’t in the schools to see how their jobs affect learning.  So, the next time you see a technician or place a call to the Help Desk or complete a form for your school TAC, remember all the hardworking professionals at ETS who make technology possible for you and your students each day. (They love cookies, too!)

It is time to start thinking about how you can improve student achievement in the Upstate as we prepare for the technology conference.  There are so many outstanding teachers out there who are doing amazing projects with their students and we want you to share these ideas with those outside your classroom walls. Think about the technology lessons that worked well and plan to present these ideas at the conference on June 22 and 23 at Wade Hampton High School. (Keep in mind, you’ll earn technology points for your technology recertification.) The ETS technicians will be on hand to help set up and solve any technology problems that might occur, so leave those issues up to us!  We look forward to hearing from you as you plan to attend and/or present at our conference.  The UTC10 website will be up and running before the winter break, so stay tuned for more information. Learn how to meet the needs of students today at our conference: “The Face of Today’s Learner “….c u at utc!

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Videoconference with Senator Graham

Posted on November 2, 2009. Filed under: High School, Social Studies/History | Tags: , , |

by Tim Van Heule
Coordinator of Distance Learning

Senator Lindsey Graham

Image taken from Senator Graham's website (http://lgraham.senate.gov)

Last week, AP Government students in Mrs. Williams class at Wade Hampton High School had the opportunity to speak with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) through videoconference.

The students generated a list of questions that they wanted to ask the Senator and eventually narrowed the list down to ten questions. Unfortunately, not all of the questions were able to be asked due to time constraints; however, the questions that were asked generated a lot of debate when the videoconference ended and the class resumed. Questions ranged on issues regarding immigration, the military, civil rights, economics and environmental issues.

An experience such as this provides students in Greenville County with a unique opportunity to have a one-on-one dialogue with the Senator. This is not the first the first time our students have participated in a videoconference with Senator Graham. Students from Riverside High School and Greer High School also participated last year. We have reached out to Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Congressman Bob Inglis (R-SC) as well.

A connection with an elected government official allows students to ask questions about issues that matter to them, something that may not always happen in a town hall meeting. This increased access provides real world connections students, bringing them into the political process as they learn the importance of phrasing questions appropriately.

While this increased access is great, it is not something that is always available to all students because of scheduling constraints with our elected officials. However, connecting with a United States Senator is only one of the benefits of videoconferencing in a high school government or social studies class. Some of the other projects that can be accomplished through videoconference are debate, mock congress and trials. Students from one school could connect with students across the district and debate current issues, mock bills and even participate in mock trials. All of these possibilities create a “new” audience for the students to prepare for and make the learning in the classroom more meaningful.

Our district is large enough to allow such projects to occur without most of the students actually “knowing” each other. However, we are always looking to expand our videoconference offerings outside of the district and are open to collaborations around the country and world. Please contact me if you are interested.

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