Training with technology


On Monday, Webster City High School hosted the school district’s first technology fair professional development day. About 125 district staff members were trained on how to use iPads and how to incorporate those devices into their lesson plans.

The Webster City Community School District Board of Directors reviewed the professional staff development day during their regular meeting on Monday with curriculum director Linda Williams. She said 60 breakout sessions were hosted by staff from the Webster City school district, Northeast Hamilton and from the Waverly Shell-Rock school district. Staff from Kendall Young Library also presented during the professional development day.

“It was a community effort and I think that’s why it was so positive because everyone was learning and sharing their knowledge with one another,” Williams said.

Dawn Scholtens, teacher at Sunset Heights Elementary, hosted two sessions about using tablets in elementary classrooms. She said that her students will often give her ideas about what to do with the technology available in the classroom. Williams said that students adapt to new technology quickly.

“It’s not what the children do or are, it’s what they do with the learning. They’re taking the technology and running with it. They’re teaching us as we learn with them,” Williams said.

Elizabeth Hubbell, the planned keynote speaker, was unable to attend due to inclement weather. Instead, Scott McCloud, a professor who is working with several Iowa districts on implementing technology in the classroom, did the keynote speech. Williams said that staff surveys that were distributed after the day’s events indicated that they appreciated McCloud’s knowledge on incorporating technology for cultural purposes in addition to educational purposes.

Superintendent Mike Sherwood said that the professional development day offered a unique opportunity to stress test the wireless internet system at the high school. He said that if the 500 to 600 devices were rolled out today with students, it would have been a disaster. In addition to fixing those glitches, Sherwood said that additional training, funding and updates to policy would be needed as the device rollout nears. However, he also said that the phased rollout needs clear staff training goals and those goals must be met before those devices are put in the hands of students.

“There’s a lot of work to do yet, but it was a very positive day. I think if you say there’s 50 steps on this journey, we might be on step five right now and our goal is to keep moving,” Sherwood said.

Other business

The Webster City Education Association presented its initial bargaining proposal for the 2013 to 2014 collective bargaining agreement. The WCEA proposed a base salary increase to $35,000 and asked for a six percent supplemental pay to be given to the special projects video group director.

The board set March 25 as the public hearing date for the 2013 to 2014 district master calendar.

The board approved a fundraising request for students to take part in a shower strike campaign to raise money for “Well Aware,” a nonprofit group that creates wells for those in need in Africa. Scholtens said that money raised last year during the shower strike were used to create a well in Kenya. She said the nonprofit can create three such wells in Africa for every $10,000 raised.