on April 24, 2010 at 6:00 AM, updated April 26, 2010 at 12:03 PM
This is the second in a series of stories which focus on technology in Gloucester County high schools.Staff photo by Lori M. Nichols Clayton High School math teacher Frank Rago uses the SMART Board to teach his students. Mark Zambon’s classroom in Clayton High School is a symbol of how technology is changing what, and how, students learn.
Zambon’s class, an elective computer graphics course, is taught in what was formerly the industrial arts wood shop.
Instead of circular saws and power tools, the room is now lined with computers and video equipment.
Principal Nick Koutsogiannis said this room is a sign of how much has changed in schools with the rise of the computer age.
Computer-based courses are replacing auto mechanic and wood working trade classes that parents of current Clayton students probably elected to take when they were high schoolers.
“This is what the world is demanding,” Koutsogiannis said.
The technological advancements do not stop outside of Zambon’s classroom door.
The 560-student high and middle school building has also made other additions to the classrooms whether it’s updated desktop computers, or the installation of SMART Boards.
The interactive whiteboards, that can cost up to $4,000 each, boost the learning experience for both the teacher and the students.
The boards, each equipped with projectors, use touch technology to detect any teacher-to-board contact.
“They definitely pay more attention to the lesson,” said Clayton math teacher Frank Rago. “It forces you to be engaged.”View full sizeStaff photo by Lori M. Nichols Clayton Middle School seventh-grader India Baker (left) and Ally Moore work on writing their essays on computers during class. During a geometry class Friday, Rago dragged math problems across the board, highlighted important information and drew geometry line segments by just brushing his index finger across the whiteboard computer. And if he needed to throw in a pop quiz, Rago could hand out the wireless remotes where students can input their answers. The results — how many students answered correctly — will automatically be tallied and shown on the screen.
With the boards, teachers can access the Internet, and print or save the notes they draw.
“It’s not going to replace the teachers, but it will enhance the learning experience, especially when kids these days are born with a laptop in their lap and a cell phone in their hand,” Koutsogiannis said.
The school has scrimped and saved to purchase the 19 systems already installed in classrooms, and Koutsogiannis said his school district is partnering with others including Delsea Regional and Elk Township districts to purchase additional units at a slightly discounted cost.
Other computers, like Zambon’s eight brand new Apple Macintosh computers used for computer graphics and video editing, were purchased with grant money.