Technology in classroom put to the test at OC schools

Technology in classroom put to the test at OC schools
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
The use of personal communication devices will be put to the test in Obion County high school classrooms.
The Obion County School Board has adopted an administrative procedure and relaxed board policy for students in grades 9-12 for the limited purpose of field testing the use of personal communication devices to enhance student learning.
The action came during Monday night’s school board meeting, held at Hillcrest Elementary School in Troy.
For example, cell phones can be used as student response systems for instant in-class assessment; cell phones and iPads can be used for research purposes; and information is being gathered on the cost of electronic textbooks, according to Obion County Director of Schools David Huss.
“We are actually going to try to use this new-age way of communication in classroom learning for those teachers who wish to do so,” Huss told The Messenger.
He said the use of personal communication devices will have a trial run at Obion County Central and South Fulton high schools during the current school year’s second semester, from Jan. 1 through May 17, 2012. No teacher will be forced to use the technology, but every teacher will have the opportunity to do so.
“There are so many things out there. We need to explore more about how students are learning in this day and age,” Huss said. “It’s just a procedure, for a limited time, after the Christmas break.”
After the trial period, teachers from both of the county high schools will report their findings to the board.
Huss said the action came following several meetings about using personal communication devices for student learning, as well as a meeting with teachers to further explore the idea. He reported the teachers were enthusiastic and a meeting is being scheduled via teleconference with teachers from the Greeneville City School System to inquire into how such technology is being used.
In other action during Monday night’s meeting, which was opened with prayer, the school board:
• Approved a consent agenda that included the monthly personnel, substitute teacher and financial reports, as well as a list of items removed from the technology inventory for recycling.
The personnel report listed leaves of absence for Hillcrest teachers Shiloh Leake, Deborah Branscum and Natalie Huebner, South Fulton Elementary teacher Christa Hankins, Obion County Central High School teacher Nancy Johnson, Ridgemont educational assistant Maegan Hendrix and Ridgemont custodian LaDonna Daniel; the resignations of Ridgemont educational assistant Wanda Reed and Ridgemont food service employee Patricia Haynes; the retirements of Lake Road Elementary teacher Rebecca Parks, system director of transportation Larry Parks and South Fulton Elementary custodian Billy Hussey; and the hirings of Ridgemont educational assistant Nick Piazza, Black Oak Elementary assistant basketball coach Brennan Scott, Hillcrest cheer coaches Melissa Cole and Lesley Anderson and South Fulton Middle/High School assistant football coach Skylar Cherry.
The substitute teachers approved for the month included Regenia Perez, Alexandria Eddington, Kimberly Hinson, Amber Hall, Joshua Camper, Mallory Collins, Felecia Lefevre, David Stephan, Diane Cochran, Ashley McEwen, Priscilla Ellegood, Carol Little, Rebecca Lister, Brandy Brady, Jana Keightley and Heather Cook.
The consent agenda also noted that high school students will be taking end-of-course exams today through Thursday; and that Dec. 20 will be a half-day of school prior to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, with classes to resume Jan. 3, 2012.
• Approved the second and final readings of separate amendments to board policies regarding class ranking and graduation activities in order to clarify a few items.
• Voted to approve on first reading an amendment to board policy regarding student discrimination/harassment and bullying/intimidation. The amendment reflects changes to state law made during the last legislative session and a requirement to include cyber bullying in the list of prohibited acts.
• Approved on first reading an amendment to board policy regarding promotion and retention. It provides for a new statute from the state legislature regarding third-grade students’ promotion to the next grade level.
• Voted to approve on first reading an amendment to board policy regarding evaluation, replacing a current policy in order for the system to be in compliance with certain rules and regulations for teacher and principal evaluations.
• Approved on first reading an amendment to board policy regarding home schools, which also comes on the heels of state legislature action relating to home schools. The law extensively revised the nature of home schools, but Huss noted the Tennessee School Boards Association-recommended policy is not materially different from the board’s current policy.
• Approved resolutions in support of appointed superintendents, opposing a school voucher system and opposing a mandatory school start date.
• Voted to approve a resolution concerning school federal projects budgets.
• Approved budget amendments for the General Purpose School Fund for the 2011-12 fiscal year budget, reflecting an additional award of federal funds to be utilized through the Adult Education Program, and the School Federal Projects Fund for the next fiscal year, reflecting an additional award of funds through the Education Jobs Program.
• Granted approval to a request from South Fulton Middle/High School to declare old football uniforms as surplus property in order for them to be sold and the funds deposited to the school’s athletic fund to help offset the cost of future purchases.
• Approved an overnight trip for the OCCHS band for various performances April 20-22 in Marietta, Ga.
Published in The Messenger 12.6.11

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