Education minister tours techno-friendly school
Line Beauchamp, Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports, became a student herself when she visited a Baie-d'Urfé elementary school, Monday, that will be home next year to dozens of Pincourt students fromSt. Patrick Elementary School.
The education minister toured Dorset Elementary on the snowy first day of spring, she said, to keep a promise to gauge the climate in Quebec classrooms.
Beauchamp was also there to highlight the government's financial pledge to implement such technology as Smart Boards, laptops and hand-held devices into classrooms.
And for a woman who admitted to completing a university education without owning a computer, the minister often stood back while grade-five students explained their electronics devices.
Teacher Rhiannon Szollosy said Dorset's grades 4, 5 and 6 classes regularly use 15 mini NetBook computers that the school purchased, as well as eight iPod Touch systems and one iPad, purchased with a government grant.
She admitted the devices often inspire esson plans.
"We've just completed a series of workshops onhowto make movies with the (iPod touch) so the kids are filming and editing their assignments this week," Szollosy said.
Meanwhile, student Devyn Sherry, 11, completed his daily assignment, 100 Days of Gratitude.
"I use the laptop to get onto the school board's website where I keep my on-line journal," the student said, adding, "I have to writewhat I'm grateful for."
Sherry's gratitude Monday was for the chance he had to participate the day before in theMontreal St. Patrick'sDay parade. "It was pretty cool," he admitted. Marcus Tabachnick, chairman of the Lester B. Pearson School Board, which recently announced plans to implement responsible digital citizen programs in its schools, acknowledged technology can be a double edged sword.
The challenge, he said, is to ensure that students embrace the positive, enabling sides of the medium while grasping the pitfalls of being plugged in all the time.
The school board has hired two full-time consultants to develop itsResponsible Digital Citizen curriculum and then teach it to teachers.
"It won't be a specific class the students will take but a philosophy taught all through the day," he said.
Tabachnick would also like the government to allow school boards to embrace many forms of technology, not just the use of smart boards.
"We have about 850 smart boards in our schools across the board, but at the same time we realize it's a one way technology. The process has to go frompassive to interactive."
The board feels there is "more than one way to put technology in the classroom," he added.