With an eye to the future - course helps teachers with integrating technology into classes

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

Nick Meyer went over the lesson plan for his eighth grade American history course, but it wasn't for a classroom full of students. He was explaining the plan to a room full of teachers. He also wasn't using a white board and markers, but state of the art computer equipment, including SmartBoard technology.

Meyer was among 18 teachers from the New Prague Area School District who took part in the Intel Teach to the Future course held at New Prague High School last week. The 40-hour program helps teachers integrate different types of technology resources into their classes.

The course was done through an Enhancing Education through Technology Grant that involved other area schools, including Belle Plaine, Chaska, Holy Family Catholic, Jordan, Prior Lake and Shakopee. In addition to the use of technology, the grant also has the goal of improving student academic achievement. On Friday, Aug. 11, the last day of the program, each of the teachers presented their plan for using technology.

Coordinator for New Prague was Tim Rybak with Shawn Brandt as trainer for secondary teachers and Rick Bell as trainer for elementary teachers. The 18 New Prague teachers included nine elementary teachers, three from each building; and nine teachers from the secondary schools-four from the middle school and five from the high school.

Shawn Brandt said that three types of software they focused on during the course were PowerPoint, Microsoft Publisher and web pages and how the students could use them in the course. PowerPoint is a computer program that can be used to present written information and visuals to the class.

Brandt said they also went over hyperlinks, a tool that allows teachers to connect their PowerPoint presentation or other resources to a web page. It allows the teacher to show documents or videos without having to stop their presentation.

Prior to the course, the teachers selected a unit from their current curriculum that could be improved by using technology. The lessons in the workshop show how technology can engage students and help them reach learning objectives.

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