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Monday, May 2, 2016

Learning in today's age of technology

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Computers, projectors, document cameras, smart boards -- are today's tools for learning.
If Robert Fulghum were to rewrite his poem, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," based on today's kindergarten classes, a lot of new words would have to be added. Some of the life lessons might still apply, but a lot of new words such as computers, smart boards, program files, Internet and Web sites would have to be added to describe a day in the life of a kindergartener.

In the not so distant past, quoting from Fulghum's poem:

"These are the things I learned:

* Share everything.

* Play fair.

* Don't hit people.

* Put things back where you found them.

* Clean up your own mess.

* Don't take things that aren't yours.

* Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

* Wash your hands before you eat.

* Flush.

* Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

* Live a balanced life -- learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

* Take a nap every afternoon.

* When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.

* Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

* Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup -- they all die. So do we.

* And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned -- the biggest word of all -- LOOK."

Children today are learning in the age of technology. Chalkboards and chalk are learning tools of the past and not even on a school's supply list.

With the help of stimulus money awarded to schools last year, much needed items have been added at area schools to help students learn in an age where technology is changing as fast as teenagers grow.

Viola Schools Superintendent John May said Viola schools have added a lot of items they would not have been able to buy without the stimulus money.

School districts received 67 percent of the stimulus money last year, but whether or not they receive the other 33 percent of the promised money remains unclear. "We may only receive about half of the remaining money, but what we have received has helped tremendously," May said.

The money received had to be used in three areas: State Fixed Stablization Funds, IDEA or special education, and Title I technology. Each district submitted plans to the Arkansas Department of Education on how the money would be spent.

Viola's plan included adding teachers, over a two year period, at both the high school and elementary levels to reduce the number of students in classrooms; library books and supplies; band instruments and supplies; agri equipment; a new heating system for classrooms and offices; and safety equipment such as a fire alarm system, surveillance system and clean air downdraft at welding stations.

A new handicapped bus was purchased, an elementary level dislexia program along with special ed and speech laptops, projectors and document cameras.

The Title I money was spent on classroom laptops, projectors, document cameras, computers for the computer lab and science equipment.

"Children learn at a different level today," May said. "Computers and the Internet are things they have been exposed to since birth," May said. "They are learning through visual and interactive lessons. Computers are a part of their life and they just jump right in. (An older generation) might be hesitant of this new technology, we're afraid we might break something, but kids today have no fear of trying new things. The result is a different learning experience. Because of the interaction and visual aspect, they seem to learn faster and retain the knowledge.

"This type of learning is fun for them. Most kids have played some type of computer game by the time they enter school as a kindergartener and this, to them, is just another game," May said.

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