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Re: Laptops? Meet Dr. Brenda A. Winkler, Superintendent of the Kutztown school district

A.B. Please share with readers how the Kutztown school district has implemented laptops into their school programs/curriculum.

The district issued district-owned laptops to teachers in August 2004 and to students in October. Teacher training began in summer 2004 and is on-going. There is always a new application, another resource (most recently the "Walk and Talk Boards"), and new strategies. The integration of technology, whether in a single content area or across multiple curricula, is central to the success of the laptop learning initiative. The teaching and learning process has changed!

An Apple trainer initially trained teachers in groups of 16. The training has progressed to the point where teachers are now training teachers. In addition, a number of teachers have instructional blogs available for colleagues state-wide….

A.B. What are some of the challenges you are up against? If you could respond to the
NY Times article, Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops.

The challenges we face are mostly financial. However, thanks to support from the School Board, state grants, the business and civic communities, and the district’s education foundation, we are able to keep the technology current.
Response to the NY Times article – I assume that you have read the following PBS response. [I hadn't until now. This is an article written by Internet Activist, Andy Carvin]

I agree with the article. Laptops alone will not raise test scores. The value of quality training of teachers can never be underestimated. The teaching and learning process MUST change.

A.B. What role has your librarian played in the implementation of the technology? Please share how he/she interacts with the classroom teacher?

The high school librarian has been one of the school’s technology leaders from the outset. She works closely with faculty and students. She is supportive, encouraging, and very gifted in the area of information and media literacy skills. In addition, this year she served as Classrooms for the Future Coach (a PA technology initiative). This allowed her to work in classrooms with teachers and students on a full-time basis. She is the single most influential faculty member in implementing technology in the curriculum. She models the effective use of technology, trains teachers, and works with individual students. She has also become a leader among her peers across the state as she hosts blogs and arranges webinars and trainings.

A.B. When seniors in your district graduate, what do you expect them to have acquired in the Ed. Tech arena?

Students graduate with a wealth of skills. They use Microsoft Office beginning in middle school. They are trained in iLife – iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, GarageBand. Most importantly, they have developed a high level of research skills and the ability to evaluate quality information. Following is a list of what we observe in conjunction with the use of laptops:

• Increased motivation

• Increased time-on-task

• Increased homework turn-in

• Improved student "products"

• Instructional time saved

• Increased curricular breadth and depth

• Improved student organization

• Increased student and teacher communication and collaboration

• Increased creativity

• Increased cross curricular opportunities

• Improved research skills

• Increased student accountability

A.B. Are there any blogs/publications for readers you'd like to share?