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New school year brings new technology for Menifee students

Friday, August 8th, 2014
Issue 32, Volume 18.
Michelle Mears-Gerst
Special to the Valley News
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With visionary thinking and planning the staff at Menifee Unified School District, are preparing for a influx of students in the future by expanding their high tech capabilities.

As students head back to school, parents will notice their childís classroom is not the classroom setting they grew up in as kids.

At Hans Christensen Middle School in Menifee for example, the blackboards are now white boards, notepads are replacing notebooks, and Googling is the term for researching.

Jim Gammel a technology and avid college prep teacher at Hans Christensen said he has even moved away from the white board and dry erase markers to using his notepad to write on while in the classroom.

Students this year will have access to more computers this year thanks to the school obtaining Chrome Carts, which create a portable computer lab that can go from classroom to classroom. Each cart can hold 33 notepads students can use at their desk.

"The portable labs enhance the studentís ability to get online," said Steve Thornton, Director of Technology for the MUSD. "Using Google Apps students can use a closed system to learn how to create spreadsheets, presentations just like they would do in the real world."

Gammel who has been teaching in the MUSD for 13 years and has an engineering background said the Chrome notepads are going to level the playing field more between extroverted and introverted children.

"Using notepads helps introverted students speak out and organize their thoughts while at the same time forcing the extroverted kids to stay focused," Gammel said.

Students this fall will be working more on their notepads than in the past thanks to the portable computer labs. Parents may see children bringing home less homework said Gammel and that is because they donít assume every child has a computer at home so they try to do as much in the classroom as possible.

"Attendance is even more important this year since we will be working online. Although we can make up work when the child is ill and not in class it is not as easy," Gammel said.

Students who are absent may have to come in early or stay after school if the work they missed was done on the computers.

Common Core teaching standards will be mainstream starting this fall and most testing under Common Core is done online according to Gammel.

Also new this year will be the parent connect online system used by parents to check on their childrenís homework assignments, email the teacher or pay for their childís lunch.

"The new system parents will be using is called Illuminate it is much easier to use and will help us move forward as the school district grows," said MUSD Public Information Officer Betti Cadmus.

"We have a lot of behind the scenes technology coming in. It is very exciting," Cadmus said.



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