Edu­ca­tion mi­nis­ter tours techno-friend­ly school

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

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.

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