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Faribault Lutheran School’s makeover: new school year, new technology

Faribault Daily News–September 13, 2012

http://www.southernminn.com/faribault_daily_news/article_89fae45c-f8ae-5ab6-9b24-549f349c6c72.html

By KAYLIN FAUST

As the 2012-2013 school year began at Faribault Lutheran School, shiny sneakers and freshly sharpened pencils weren’t the only new equipment in the building. Over the summer, FLS furnished all eight classrooms with SMART Boards, installed wireless Internet and acquired 24 new laptops for use as a portable computer lab.

Of all the new technology in the school, perhaps the most impactful addition to the classrooms is the SMART boards. SMART Boards, which can cost upward of $7,000, are electronic, interactive whiteboards. The boards offer capabilities that allow students and teachers to do many things, including draw, write, take notes, play educational games, use Power Point and connect to the internet.

Joel Witt, principal of FLS, says the new boards have been received well by both the staff and the students.

“The staff are excited about being able use new tools with the kids, and the students are excited about being able to do something fun,” said Witt. “The new tools just serve to make the classrooms better altogether.”

According to Witt, updating the school’s technology has been a process that started more than a year ago. First came the idea of implementing a one-to-one technology plan, where every student and teacher would receive a device for his or her own use. That plan was later revised, and every classroom got a digital projector, while the staff received laptops. Then, as the school’s board of directors continued to meet with the staff to brainstorm, the idea of SMART boards came up. Later, new laptops were purchased as well, which were then placed on a cart that teachers can use as a portable computer lab.

At first, Witt says, only four boards were going to be purchased. But when the teachers expressed their wish to all work with the same level of technology, the decision was made to try to get boards for every classroom. Eventually, private funding, which came from both church and community members, raised the $30,000 needed to purchase and install the boards.

Witt says he spent the summer rewiring the classroom projectors to work with the new boards, and attending training sessions to learn how to use the new technology. Now, Witt and the Faribault Lutheran School staff meet every other week to learn more about the SMART boards and practice using all the tools they offer. Witt says the expansive capabilities of the boards have positively impacted how his staff teaches by giving them more educational options. He says they also help the staff meet the different needs of the students, because the boards incorporate audio, visual and tactical teaching techniques.

“It’s been an educational experience for everyone,” said Witt. “I feel really blessed because I can see the students and teachers grow.”

Robin Kuball, who teaches kindergarten at FLS, is very pleased with what the SMART board in her classroom adds to her lessons.

“There’s tons of resources out there,” said Kuball, “and now they’re just at our fingertips.”

In the end, the teachers and administration at Faribault Lutheran School ultimately desire to see their students get excited about learning. And to a generation that’s grown up surrounded by technology, these new devices make the students feel right at home.

“We’ve put a lot of thought into this,” said Witt. “This is a community that believes in meeting the educational needs of every student, and tools like this help us do that.”

 

Hands-on learning

Students at Faribault Lutheran School are learning how to use the Smart Boards that were recently installed in every classroom.

A little help from the expert

Faribault  Lutheran School recently purchased a portable computer lab of 24 lap tops. Principal Witt often tours the classrooms to lend a hand as teachers and students learn about the new technology.

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