Commissioners See New Classroom Technology
A plunge into modern day classroom technology awaited the Moore County Board of Commissioners at a Thursday night meeting at Union Pines High School.
Meeting jointly with the Board of Education, the commissioners were introduced to such technology as the Smart Board and three-dimensional computer imagery to teach algebra, biology and social studies.
The commissioners, school board members, key staffers and visitors donned special glasses for a 3-D view of plant cells and a breathtaking view of the human head - altered, CSI-style, to show skull, brain and nerve cells.
"I'm just in awe," Commissioner Cindy Morgan said. "I can't believe it,"
"This technology would have made it almost fun for me," said Commissioner Larry Caddell, who confessed to classroom problems in a day when his dyslexic condition was a mystery to most educators.
Superintendent Susan Purser reminded everyone that this is not the classroom of their youth. She recalled that desks in her classroom were nailed to the floor, discouraging individual movement and interaction with other students.
Union Pines Principal Robin Lea told the commissioners that they would be treated as if they were students in the classroom, complete with questions and answers. She started off by instructing everyone to clean up the mess from their light supper, served in the media center and prepared by the Food II advanced class.
"We love it," Lea said of her school.
Lea said that changes in teaching technology have been so rapid in recent years that it is hard for the average person to absorb. In addition to the joint meeting of the two boards, Union Pines was the scene Thursday night of a band concert, a basketball game and a pancake supper.
"Just about every night something is going on here," Lea said. "We are the community for our students."
Four teachers of different subjects at different levels conducted miniature classes in their fields when everyone was seated in the classroom.
Associate Superintendent Kathy Kennedy introduced the teachers and described the qualities and attributes the Moore County "future-ready student" must acquire to make it in today's world. That student must be multi-lingual, a critical thinker, an effective communicator, a relationship-builder, a skilled mathematician, a proficient reader and a knowledgeable global citizen, among dozens of other things.
Mandy Nall, a third-grade teacher at Carthage Elementary School, led a micro-literacy lesson featuring an old black and white film of swimmer Gertrude Ederle's history-making swim across the English Channel in 1926. She was the first woman to accomplish that feat.
Nall then used the Smart Board to help students distinguish between fact and opinion.
Eighth-grade teacher Michelle Bennett, of New Century Middle School, guided her students in the design of their own bungee jump. After showing a video of a real bungee jump, she used a yardstick rigged with string and weight to determine the length of the jump based on length of the elasticized string and weight of the jumper.
Students then used a calculator and the computer to prepare a table, a graph and an algebraic equation to design the jump.
New Century Assistant Principal Nancy Melone said students need the new technology to acquire 21st century skills, such as the integrated math used in that illustration.
Jeremy Blake, a Union Pines social studies teacher, took the class on a trip into globalization with a concentration on international trade. Students found Carthage on a Smart Board map of the world, then found the province in China where many of our goods are exported.
Blake said he uses computer programming to enhance assignments and classroom scheduling. He added that students no longer have an excuse to forget or misunderstand assignments.
No science laboratory ever resembled the three-dimensional experiments demonstrated by Tyler Callahan, a Union Pines science teacher and Kenan Fellows candidate.
Everyone donned special glasses to view the 3-D imagery of a plant cell, then to take a look at the outside and inside of the human head.
County Manager Cary McSwain reminded the gathering that funds for this technology were largely made possible through a BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) grant.
"We didn't have to pay for it," McSwain said.
McSwain said that this technology can be used to create a hologram in which a student can actually take a motorcycle engine apart and put it together again or can take a cadaver apart for medical training.
At the close of these mini-classes, Purser quoted educator John Dewey, who said: "If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow."
Commissioner Jimmy Melton said he has already observed in his business the need for training in the use of the new technology.
Class was dismissed without a quiz.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at (910) 693-2479 or by e-mail at flo firstname.lastname@example.org.
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