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iCare prepares students for Digital Age
May 19, 2013
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LOS ANGELES:  Katilyn Lawrence and a technology team from Wetumpka High School put together an application and a video that takes a look at the comparison between the plot of the book “Fahrenheit 451” and the Germany Nazi book burnings.

“We produced that app that shows you where you can read it and it can be accessed just using this bar code,” said Lawrence, a freshman who worked on a team with classmates Dalton Moore and Jaret Gallops.

Lawrence and her team participated in the iCARE Technology Showcase at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Centre. It was a chance for students from Coosa, Marengo and Lowndes counties, as well as the Wetumpka Pilot Project, to display standards-based technology integration, focusing on project understanding, digital citizenship/research and technical operations.

The three county school systems are part of the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. The Information Transport Solutions Inc. (ITS) is a Wetumpka-based company that hosted the technology showcase that highlighted student technology projects. iCARE - Changing Alabama, Revolutionising Education - was developed out of Project CARE (Caring About Results Everyday), a collaboration between ITS and the school districts over the past three years.

In 2010, Information Transport Solutions’ Education Services Division was selected by Coosa, Lowndes and Marengo counties to serve as the transformation provider for the School Improvement Grant via Project CARE. The project transferred educational expertise with school improvement processes in the areas of standards-based instruction, the use of data disaggregation and analysis, and infusing effective technology integration strategies in the classroom.

The foundation of CARE has been to focus on process, and not product, and incorporate the effective school-improvement processes, prescriptive intervention and strategies necessary to change instructional culture over time.

“You can provide all the tools you want to provide, but they’re just tools without the right processes,” said Michael Kemp, vice president of educational services at ITS. “We worked with all the districts and partnered with them. Transformation is tough work. Whether it is funded or not funded, change in schools is tough business, but it is worth it when it translates into student achievement - so they can sustain it when the grant ends.”

Vallerie Cave, director of consultant services with ITS, said the children have learned technology integration and what it means to be an active learner, and a “participant in learning.

“They need to know this to be college-and career-ready. As we move more and more in this digital age, they take their iPad, laptops - all kinds of digital resources. They are going to be ready for the digital age.” Jonothon Segars agrees.

“You can really take robotics and run with it and really do whatever you want to with it in your life because of the technology we learn here,” said Segars of the Wetumpka High School Robotics Inc. team that also includes Jonathon Oliver and Tanner Knight.

Jared Baggett stood with the team on Friday, displaying how their robot’s gravity arm locks into place.

“Every year, we get a task from Auburn University,” Baggett said of his high school’s team, “and are given six weeks to brainstorm, develop a design, re-engineer and redesign and construct a robot as well as a business marketing presentation, and a table exhibit.

“The robot design has a gravity arm that extends using gravity and it locks into place using a double actuator arm.”

Project CARE has been a success in the Lowndes school district for several reasons, as it has expanded time, place and energy in the students, said Kimberly Washington, director of human resources with Lowndes County schools.

“Our students now have the opportunity to use technology while in school and while at home,” she said. “Each student has been equipped with an iPad for their own use during the school day, to be so expressive, and so in tune to what’s going on in the classroom.

“Also, it has allowed our students to be more deeply rooted in understanding what’s going on in the classroom. They now have access to tools that allow them to do things that they probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to utilize if it were not for the partnership with Project CARE.”

The K-12 students competed as individuals or as two to four-person teams at the showcase. Representatives from lower, secondary and higher education systems, private companie, and state education associations judged the competition.

Regarding the opportunity for the technology project, Lawrence said for her, it is always easier to learn from something that allows you to skip to portions “you need. So this app, it’s developed so that you can only look at the part that you need. And, when I’m reading, it’s nice to have notes to help out, and to not be so clueless as to the plot. So that’s how this plot has helped me.”


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