Second-grader Ella Wennes shows Mildred Myhre Google Docs preceding the Spring Grove Communications annual meeting on March 19.
Second-grader Ella Wennes shows Mildred Myhre Google Docs preceding the Spring Grove Communications annual meeting on March 19.
For an hour prior to the Spring Grove Communications (SGC) annual meeting on March 19 the west end of the Fest Building was abuzz with Spring Grove School students demonstrating education technology that is part of their classroom and schoolwork.

"Kids are doing wonderful things," Principal Nancy Gulbranson remarked about the use of technology in today's education systems.

And, reflecting back to her and this reporter's day and age, Gulbranson added, "Kids are wired differently than when we were in school."

Jill Bjerke, second-grade teacher, stated, "We work hard to teach our students how to be creative thinkers, and technology is a great tool for them."

In kindergarten through third grade, there are five iPads per class, but they can be shared if there is a need for all students to use them at the same time. And, there are extra iPads in the library that can be used by any students.

Providing the seventh - 12th grade students with laptops has allowed the school to increase accessibility to fourth - sixth grade students in the PC and Mac computer laps.

Also, 7-12 grade students have the opportunity to rent their laptop for as little as $15 per month. This provides an affordable way for families to have access to technology at home and also helps support the sustainability of the district's technology plan.

Technology in action

Attendees gathered around the tables with elementary students, who were demonstrating Google Docs. The whole school uses this technology for assignments, communication between teachers, and communication between teachers and students.

Students can type an assignment and share it with their teacher (no printing or wasting paper) and there is a presentation tool that they can use to present to the class. Pictures can also be included.

The second graders showed a Picturebook app on their iPads, which is used to write stories, add pictures and share with others.

Educreations is a lesson or presentation program that allows students and teachers to make a multi-media presentation where they can type, record voice, add pictures and share with others.

Teachers can use it to record stories for students to listen to or create lessons for their students to watch.

Students can use it to write stories or create presentations. Second-grade and Middle Ages students use this program.

The "flipped classroom" was demonstrated by eighth-grader Chase Grinde and math teacher Chris Strinmoen.

"We use videos to teach the math," Strinmoen stated. "What's usually taught in the classroom is now being watched at home on a video. Worksheets and homework are done in the classroom."

Bjerke adds, "It is as if you were in a college class, and the videos are the lecture that they watch at home; class time is the lab. Students can go back and watch videos as they need to if they do not understand a concept."

Other computer programs demonstrated at the SGC event included: Graphic Art Projects - for use with online programs; BUBBL.US - to make concept maps; Pezi - a fancy upscale PowerPoint; Animoto - to do presentations and video slide shows as it can insert graphics and music; Cranberry & QUIZLET - to learn vocabulary; LABPRO - for data collection; and EXAMVIEW - for testing.

Cooperative effort is key

Superintendent Rachel Udstuen relayed, "The school district has a three-year lease with Apple to purchase the computers and iPads. Without the support of Spring Grove Communications and its patrons who help fund a portion of this lease, the school district could not have implemented this technology plan.

"Not only are they helping financially with the lease, but they work closely with our technology director, Jeff Thompson, to make sure that our infrastructure is meeting the needs of our users."