Welcome by Co-Presidents, Shannon Yates and Kari Pike
Shannon and Kari announced the evening’s agenda and thanked parents, teachers and Principal Satterfield for the great turnout at the meeting.
Mr. Satterfield spoke to the group about the importance of Smart Boards in the classrooms, and supports the Kindergarten teachers in their quest for the installation of Smart Boards in each of the 4 Kindergarten classrooms. All of the Kindergarten classrooms in both the Bell and Eveleth Schools have or will soon have Smart Boards. The majority of them have been funded by parent donations and by the PTO’s of each school. The cost of each Smart Board is approx $6,000.
Throughout the meeting, the Kindergarten teachers each spoke, and gave their reasons for why Smart Boards would enhance their teaching abilities. Principal Satterfield also took questions from the attendees of the meeting. Here are the highlights:
What the teachers had to say:
Representing the Kindergarten team were Mrs. Gay, Mrs. Darci, Mrs. Hecht and Mrs. O’Flynn.
- Enhancement of learning (e.g., using Google Earth to show the children their location in Marblehead, and what routes they could take to get to other countries in the world). Mrs. O’Flynn did this during a holiday celebration unit
- Empowerment of the children: Mrs. Hecht feels strongly that the children are proud to share their artwork and writing samples with their class, especially when it can be projected on the Smart Board for the whole class to see
- Building blocks for public speaking skills and team work: Mrs. Darci used the example of how she used a song, the “Skeleton Dance,” from Utube, during a science unit on the human body. The children learned through reading the words, hearing the words, and dancing. They were also able to touch the words as they were projected on the screen.
- Enhancement of technology that children are already familiar with: Many children have exposure to and experience with computers, smart phones, etc. in their homes. Mrs. Gay was able to share with her students the birth of black bear cubs in a bear den in Ely, MN. She thought this was a wonderful interactive learning experience for the children.
- Hands-on Learning: the children can go up to the board, touch it, move things around, draw, write, etc; The teachers feel strongly about having the Smart Boards installed low enough so that the children can reach them easily.
Mrs. Blake from the 1st grade team also spoke in support of the Kindergarten teachers. She uses her classroom’s Smart Board for attendance, by which she is also able to incorporate math, calendar work, and spelling. She has hers on throughout the day for various teaching points.
Q: Do the Smart Boards require additional software and updates?
A: There are some programs that come w/ the Smart Boards. The teachers are also able to download lessons off the internet.
Q: Are the recently purchased Smart Boards outdated?
A: No, but there is a new version that the Kindergarten teachers are hoping to get. This new version is very user friendly, and can handle 2 users at once. Currently installed models in other classes only accomodate 1 user at a time.
A: That is not currently offered by vendors.
Q: What is the ongoing cost of maintaining the Smart Boards?
A: The light bulbs are $200 each. They need to be replaced every 12-18 months, depending on use. Otherwise, there have been minimal operational malfunctions. There is a 2 year service contract with the vendor.
A: There has been no district wide initiative for technology up until now. Most of the technology has been PTO funded.
Q: Could the older Smart Boards(ie, 3rd grade boards were installed in 2007) be moved to Kindergarten classrooms?
A: There should be a sense of “Community buy-in.” For instance, parents ahead of us enabled the other grades to get Smart Boards, and perhaps allowed our older children to benefit from this advanced technology. As current or incoming CGS parents, we should look to provide the same opportunity for the next group of young students.
Q: What is the Professional Development Plan regarding the use of Smart Boards in the Kindergarten classrooms?
A: The teachers will form study groups to create lesson plans. They will collaborate to develop the curriculum so that it is uniform across the Kindergarten team. The teachers will work with Mr. Satterfield as well.
A: The Kindergarten teachers assurred the group that they strongly believe in traditional learning styles for this age group, and that the Smart Boards would just be one more teaching tool.
After some discussion about ways in which the funds could be raised, a vote was made to purchase 2 of the Kindergarten Smart Boards now, for installation in the near future. The $12,000 to do so will be allocated from PTO funds. The other 2 are to be purchased once funds are raised. The Kindergarten teachers were ecstatic about the vote! They will work together to share the 2 Smart Boards until the other 2 can be purchased.
The goal will be to raise an additional $12,000 for the other 2 Smart Boards. This will require a lot of parent involvement and creative fund-raising. The hope is to have the money raised by the end of the year, so that the 2 remaining Smart Boards can be installed by September 2012.
Magic Hat Week (2/15-2/18): Saturday, 2/18 is still in desparate need of shifts to be filled. If we don’t fill our spots, we can lose much needed funds. Please consider helping!!
Whit and Whimsy Week (March 5-11): Shop at this great book store on Atlantic Ave and mention the CGS; 20% of your purchase will come back to the PTO!!
Boxtops for Education: this is ongoing throughout the school year. Just bring in your boxtops and earn money for our schools!
Spring Event and Auction: TBA, but sometime in May: If you are interested in working on this event, please contact any member of the PTO. It is typically our PTO’s biggest fund-raiser.
Yearbooks: The sales of yearbooks last year brought in approx $1,000 to the PTO. Stay tuned for more info about this year’s!
Next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, April 3, 2012. Hope to see you there!