This year, students attending Anna L. Klein School in Guttenberg have been merging their normal classroom studies with a technology-based lesson plan aided by Apple iMac computers.
The district spent $150,000 in last year’s budget to purchase the new computers, which were installed in a lab for seventh and eighth grade students and in various classrooms. Constructing the lab itself cost $140,000. Replacing the school’s antiquated computers was a project pushed by Interim Superintendent Tom Roberts, and was then taken over by the present superintendent, Dr. Joseph Ramos.
Along with the new lab for the upperclassmen, the lower grades have a lab with Apple laptops.
While the computers may have been an expensive expenditure for a small school system, students and faculty say that getting up-to-date with the current technology was well worth it.
“Oh my goodness, I remember the old computers,” said Principal Pedro Garrido, who has been working at the school for 25 years. “You could just use them for basics, for typing things and [using] floppy discs with programs. Now it’s so diverse; you can go into so many things.”
Garrido explained that students were now doing everything from web design to creating Power Point presentations.
Garrido said that projectors will be added to classrooms and that iPods will supplement bilingual classrooms next year.
Ramos explained that he plans to spearhead changes like implementing more technology in the district and steering away from teaching from the blackboard.
Preparing students for H.S.
Cheryl Spirig first came to Klein School in 1988. After teaching basic skills and sixth grade, she asked to be considered for a position involving technology. She is now the computer teacher for seventh and eighth grades.
Her eighth grade students last week were creating PowerPoint presentations on the metamorphosis of certain insects, a lesson that was taken out of their science class. Spirig follows EZ Tech, a curriculum the district purchased that assesses students’ knowledge of technology according to state standards. Her students’ next lesson will be creating a merge letter, in which they will learn how to send out a mass e-mail. The lesson will incorporate things they are learning in their language arts class.
“When they walked in and saw these machines, [the students] were very excited,” said Spirig.
Last week, student Luis Gonzalez was on the computer working on his presentation on the ground beetle. He agreed that the technology-infused lessons made him more interested in his normal classroom studies.
“It’s exciting,” said Gonzalez. “I never really worked on a computer before, and I’m learning a lot.”
“By the time we get into High School, we’ll already know what to do with this type of technology.” – Auries Martinez
Martinez said she will be better prepared to attend North Bergen High School now.
“By the time we get into high school, we’ll already know what to do with this type of technology,” said Martinez.
For the students
Jolene Mantineo, the district’s business administrator, said that bringing the computers to the students was one of the best things they were able to do for them.
“It was great that we were able to finally do something for the kids,” said Mantineo. “With all of the fixed costs of the budget, by the time you take care of your salaries and your health benefits and special education costs, there is nothing left and the students get shortchanged.”
Mantineo said that installing trailers to alleviate the school’s overcrowding problem and bringing top-of-the-line computers to the student body made last year “great.”
Garrido believes that the computers will not only supplement lessons, but help students score even higher in standardized testing since teachers can now quiz classes and see a graph depicting the results. Bilingual teachers over the summer will receive training on how to integrate technology and iPods in their lessons. He believes these new technologies are just the beginning as Klein School infuses the classroom with new resources.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.