District expands advanced computer system to fourth graders

by Rodney Schroeter of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE—The School Board set events in motion Monday night to allow fourthgrade students to use Chromebooks in the classroom.

“Chromebooks” is a general term for a laptop running the Chrome Operating System. Instead of each individual machine having programs (or applications — “apps” for short) installed on them, the apps and documents created by students are stored in “the cloud.”

With traditional laptops, apps were installed on each machine, a time-consuming process. A student working on a machine created documents (for example, a book report), which also resided on that machine. If such a machine were physically destroyed, stolen, or attacked by a hacker’s virus, programs and documents could be entirely lost (unless the laptop’s owner had backed up all important documents).

With the Chromebook, a stu- dent can have months or even years worth of work stored in the cloud. If the Chromebook is destroyed, the student has lost no work; all that is required is to set up a new Chromebook for that student, and he/she has all access to the work stored in the cloud. (The devices are insured for that reason.)

The four-page proposal distributed to the board by District Administrator Ann Buechel Haack gave several reasons for this plan:

• Fast deployment and return on investment

• Builds keyboarding skills with an attached keyboard

• Touch screen allows use of apps that are designed for elementary level students

• Fully integrated with the school’s Google Apps Domain

• Volume discount pricing that takes advantage of already purchased units

Buechel Haack said the money is in the budget to get the 36 units for the fourth graders. Currently, grades 5 and above are using Chromebooks. Reports have come to the board in the past few months that students and teachers are both satisfied with how well they are being utilized in classrooms.

Elementary Principal Deb Hammann said that, as with fifth graders, fourth graders would not take these devices home.

The board unanimously approved the proposal.

• • •

The board unanimously voted to accept several donations and expressed appreciation to all donors. Buechel Haack distributed a detailed list of all donations made to the school system, scholarships to 2015 graduates, and grants for the 2015-16 school year. The combined handout was seven pages.

The board reviewed results of the 2014-15 Badger and DLM (Dynamic Learning Maps) ELA (English/Language Arts) and WSAS (Wisconsin Student Assessment System) performance tests. EL-G students as a whole performed higher than the Wisconsin average.

Board member Scott Heinig asked what the scores were based on, and whether they measured skills that were in demand in the workplace, or at higher levels of education. Buechel Haack said the tests were developed by the state, and that the ACT (American College Testing), given in high school, is designed more to evaluate a student’s readiness for college.

The board unanimously approved revisions to district policies which were co-developed with Neola Policy.

The school district’s proposed 2016-17 calendar was reviewed, discussed, and unanimously approved.

The board unanimously approved the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s academic standards for English/ Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. These standards can be found at dpi. wi.gov/standards.

Second-grade teacher Sue Reineking’s letter of resignation / retirement was unanimously accepted, with acknowledgment of and thanks for her many years of service. Buechel Haack noted that she had taught in the district for over twenty years.

In her Student Council activities report, student Aryka Klemme told the board that, to heighten school spirit, the Student Council has planned monthly dress-up days with prizes. The Senior vs. Staff Basketball Game is being planned and eagerly anticipated.

Past month’s activities for grades JK through 8, as reported by Hammann, included a Native American presentation given to fourth graders; a celebration in many classrooms of the 100th day of school on Feb. 4; all-day reading activities; seventh- and eighth-graders attending a Milwaukee Symphony concert; parent teacher conferences on Feb. 8; Career Day for middle school students; review of science curriculum standards at an upcoming in-service; and the coming of the middle school volleyball and wrestling seasons.

Principal Jim Brown’s highlights of high school activities included recognizing the 63 students who achieved Honor Roll or High Honor Roll status (43 percent of the student body); five students with perfect attendance during the first semester; Students of the Quarter in each academic area; Poetry Out Loud contestants (which Buechel Haack said would hopefully be at the March board meeting); a Silver Medal winner in forensics (Nikolai Yasko, forensics advisor, said only four students out of 126 competing received medals); a number of students performing in several Honors Bands; the robotics team competing at the state level this coming weekend; and instructor Beth Roehl’s Top Tech award.

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