Pencils down, laptops up

BC classrooms, students get high tech


For some educators, it's a dream worldpaperless classrooms driven by students' personal laptops, electronic blackboards and wireless Internet that connects schools around the world.

While this vision might not come tomorrow, or even the next day, in the Bethlehem Central School District teachers and administrators alike are cognizant of the implications of an increasingly digital world, are seeking to outfit students with the skills to work in it, and are closer to the classroom of the future than one might think.

The district's 21 Century Committee has been examining where the district is and where it can go and according to administrators, the need for students to develop skills for the world of tomorrow is abundantly clear.

It's a large initiative by the district, and trying to promote not only technology integration but the concept of a global world," said Assistant Superintendent Jody Monroe. "This is the world our kids live in, and it's not secluded anymore and they are out there in many ways."

To that end, many classrooms use EPals to communicate with students and schools in different parts of the country and world. Some teachers employ Web sites like Twitter to keep parents posted on the happenings in the classrooms and use social networking devices like Wikis and blogs to encourage students to collaborate with one another in and out of the classroom.

Some classrooms make use of video conferencing. In Clarksville and Slingerlands elementary schools, for example, the fourth grade classrooms of Laurel Jones and Kelly Ward have been using the Internet to collaborate all year, and in October they used Web cams to play a game of Jeopardy against each other.

The novelty of playing the game against a remote opponent kept Jones's students anchored in the lesson.

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