Quarles, Frederick Douglass add technology class to lineup

Posted: July 18, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Officials at two city elementary schools hope to close the digital divide among their students and enhance learning with a pilot technology class to be introduced in the fall.

Winchester’s four elementary schools require students to take four “specials” classes — art, library, physical education and music.

Starting with the upcoming school year, Quarles and Frederick Douglass elementary schools will include a technology class as one of the specials.

“Technology is so motivating for kids that I think we’ll see some great results,” said Stephanie Downey, principal at Frederick Douglass.

Downey and Quarles Principal Joanie Hovatter proposed the class to provide students a more concentrated time at the computer.

Now, children work on computers intermittently in their regular classrooms, but don’t receive as much focused attention or as much one-on-one learning time as they might in a technology class.

“With the rigor and all that teachers have to do, technology is not something they always get to effectively as much as they like,” Downey said.

Each student will take the approximately 45-minute technology class once a week. The course will accommodate students of all capabilities, from those who don’t have computer access at home to those who are advanced.

Through the class, students will learn: basic computer skills; social and ethical issues concerning technology; how to use word processing, graphic and presentation tools; and how to gather and research information and use Internet sources.

They will be able to work on projects assigned in their regular classrooms, and the class could also potentially offer a “green screen” software program, in which students could pose in front of a screen and place a backdrop of a location anywhere in the world behind them.

“It’s a simple thing, but a powerful thing,” Hovatter said. “That’s impressive. There’s more interaction, and it encourages a higher level of learning.”

One new technology teacher has been hired at each school.

Hovatter and Downey will provide reports throughout the year on the progress of students in the technology class, in the hope that it can be implemented for a second year and possibly in the division’s other two elementary schools.

— Contact Rebecca Layne atrlayne@winchesterstar.com