Chromebooks go to school

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, September 23, 2015

TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM: Fifth graders in Rebecca Mayfield’s class at Poplarville Upper Elementary utilize Chromebooks for classroom assignments.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM: Fifth graders in Rebecca Mayfield’s class at Poplarville Upper Elementary utilize Chromebooks for classroom assignments.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Last month, students in Poplarville returned to the halls of learning and Poplarville School District Superintendent Carl Merritt said enrollment numbers have increased and the school year got off to a great start.
This year, there are more than 1900 students enrolled in the four schools, which include two elementary schools, a middle and high school. Merritt also added that every teacher position is filled.
Renovations and upgrades are being made to facilities at the lower elementary and high school principal’s office, Merritt said. Windows are being replaced at the upper elementary as well as drainage and electrical upgrade work is being done at both elementary schools and the high school.
“There have been no complaints, we have ensured we have the best classrooms and we’re meeting all state mandates,” Merritt said. “We appreciate the support of this community.”
Merritt said district teachers are continually participating in mandated curriculum training and staying abreast of new programs in order to meet the needs of students.
At the next board meeting, the board and Merritt will recognize former superintendents.
“This district is not something I have made,” he said. “A lot of people were involved that made this district what it is. We don’t sit still and continue to strive to improve. We got to keep moving forward.”
Lower elementary principal Diane Herndon said her students were off to a great start.
In addition to six kindergarten classes, seven first grade classes and six second grade classes, the school has many programs to enhance the learning experience of students, which include physical therapy, PE, library, music and computer, she said.
The second grade chorus is being chosen and officials are establishing attendance initiatives for students, Herndon said. Officials are planning celebration assemblies and faculty members are going to school to further their education in some of the school’s weaker areas, she said.
For the second year, the Back Pack Buddies program has provided food for students in need, Herndon said. The children are sent home with enough food for three meals and snacks on Saturday and Sunday. The program has been a hit, she said.
“We also appreciate the support from parents,” Herndon said. “It takes us and them. We want to bring highlights to our celebrations and increase knowing and learning. We are also using Chromebooks in the classrooms.”
The students at the lower elementary are not the only ones benefiting from technology.
Upper elementary principal Lynn Payne said teachers are implementing Google technology classroom.
“It’s one of the neatest things,” he said. “Technology is being used to teach the children and they are loving it.”
Some classrooms have full sets of the Chromebooks, while others can utilize the computer labs or the mobile set of Chromebooks.
Students can take tests on the computers and the teachers grade them and return them to the students almost immediately, he said. Teachers can also make comments and a copy of the examinations can be sent to parents. Student no longer have to sit side-by-side to complete group work, they can communicate via computer. However, there is monitoring in place and improper computer use gets flagged.
“The students are not just turned loose online,” he said. “Teachers are also using it to receive professional development training.”
High school principal Jonanthan Will said the school year is off to a great start.
There are many programs students can take advantage of this year. The first are two dual credit college courses, College Algebra and English Composition I, Will said. There is also a school wide ACT preparatory course.
“We’re real excited for our students,” Will said. “Higher ACT scores equal scholarships. Our goals this year not only increasing our ACT percentage but also graduation and attendance rates.”
Also in place at the high school is a positive behavior support program, he said. Each month, students who have no disciplinary action or tardies will receive a reward and, after 9 weeks, there is a trip planned.
“We continue this program to create a positive culture and reinforce behavior,” Will said. “It’s fun to reward them. Our students are responding very well. I’m also very happy with the efforts of our teachers.”

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