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Teacher eager to take her students down high-tech highway

July 26, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

MAUGANSVILLE - Kathy Martin, a self-described guinea pig, is looking forward to trying out some new ideas when school starts by using new technology in her second-grade classroom at Maugansville Elementary School.

Martin, 54, is one of 20 elementary school teachers in Washington County Public Schools selected to get a technology package. Seventy-five teachers applied for the equipment.

The teachers who received the package ranged from those who already are technologically savvy to those, like Martin, who are interested in trying something new to see if it enhances students learning experiences, said Lynn Miller, supervisor of the office of instructional technology.

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The package, valued at $3,500 each, includes a personal digital assistant to be used with the county reading program, a wireless laptop computer and equipment that will let her project images from the computer onto a screen on a classroom wall.

This last item is particularly exciting, Martin said, since in the past students had to take turns crowding around the one computer in her classroom because they were not all able to see the computer screen at once.

In exchange for being one of the 20 teachers to get the equipment, she knows teachers and administrators from other schools will come by to see how she is using the technology to improve the education she is providing. The 20 teachers also will meet periodically to exchange ideas.

"I like being the guinea pig. You get the new equipment first. You get to have it and you get to use it," she said Thursday.

While she has had the equipment for less than one month she already has started exploring ideas, including various Internet sites, that will let her expand on parts of the school curriculum, she said.

For example, when talking about Hagerstown during social studies, she can use the computer to show students pictures of Hagerstown's sister city of Wesel, Germany, she said.

Martin has taught for 31 years, more than 20 of those at Maugansville, she said.

Miller said the school system decided to try giving more technology to elementary school teachers - hopefully followed by a similar pilot project in the secondary schools - partially in response to the way children are using some technology more than in the past.

The days of teachers lecturing for 45 minutes straight are over, Miller and Martin said.

Martin and other teachers now will explore other ways to educate students and help them achieve more with the help of the equipment, Miller said.

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