Diamond Bar Highlander
September 1, 2011
By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer
Chaparral students get laptop computers for new technology core program
The only Blackboard sixth graders at Chaparral Middle School will be using this year is the digital one students will access with their new HP Netbooks.
The Walnut Valley school launched a new one-on-one laptop program with the beginning of the new school year. Along with textbooks, 200 kids received shiny new laptop computers at the Diamond Bar school.
"The new computers are part of the new technology core we're starting at our campus," explained Principal Ron Thibodeaux.
The laptops push the National Blue Ribbon School further into the digital age. Teachers will use the new computers to enhance their instructions.
One of those teachers is Jen Alcazar, who is heading up the project.
"I've been fascinated by technology since I was young," Alcazar said. "I built my own computers from parts with the support of my parents."
For years, the instructor has wanted to bring more computers into her classroom. When she approached Thibodeaux about her proposal, the administrator gave her the green light.
"Ron has been very supportive. He found the funds we needed to buy the laptops," Alcazar said.
The principal was able to pull together $125,000 from the school's Community Club, Walnut Valley Educational Foundation and the school district.
"We decided to go with HP instead of Apple because we got almost two computers for the price of one," Thibodeaux said.
Putting costs aside, Chaparral just wants to reach as many students as it can with the new one-on-one computer program. Each student will be issued a computer for use during the school day.
"It's a fantastic platform," Alcazar said. "It will allow lots of innovative instruction."
Alcazar is working with a team of five other teachers in the technology core. The team includes two of Walnut Valley's teachers of the year: social studies instructor Anna Landi, who is this year's teacher of the year, and Alcazar, who was last year's.
"Technology is advancing exponentially and the classroom must also evolve to prepare students for the challenges they will face in the global marketplace," Landi said in the school district's newsletter.
Core teachers will use the new laptops in all their subject areas. These include science, language arts, social studies and math. An EL instructor will also use the computers.
"All our teachers are very passionate about technology," Alcazar said. "And our students and parents are also very excited about the new program."
Michelle Stretker, 11, and Brian Chang, 10, were glad they signed up for the new technology core. They proudly displayed their new laptop computers.
"I really like technology. I want to learn as much as I can about it because I think it will be helpful later in life," Brian explained.
Michelle thought the computers will be very handy for school projects. She will access lessons and presentations electronically.
"Now we can also add videos and music to our school assignments," she said.
Alcazar said the students will also use the netbooks for online discussions and forums through the Blackboard teaching platform. Each student will have an account on the school's WiFi network.
"Students can even email their homework to their teachers," the lead teacher noted. "The instructor can then grade and correct the assignment electronically."
Alcazar said the teachers will still be teaching the same content for the state standards. But, she added that today's students learn differently.
"If we want to meet the needs of the students who walk through our doors, then we will have to change our teaching practices," Alcazar said.
Next year, Chaparral hopes to add enough laptops for half the seventh grade. The year after that, it would add enough for half the eighth grade. "Our ultimate goal is to become an entirely one-to-one laptop school," Thibodeaux said.
Chaparral Middle School purchased 200 HP Notebooks for half the sixth-grade classes. Shown: Social Studies teacher Anna Landi helps a student with the new classroom technology. (Staff photos by Watchara Phomicinda)
Students use new HP notebooks in the new technology core program.
See story at www.sgvtribune.com