Sherman Central School Board of Education members got a little "schooling" themselves last Monday, Feb. 3, as they learned about the strides students in fifth and sixth grade are taking in digital learning.
Board members took a "field trip" trip to science and English/language arts rooms where they were treated to brief "classes" regarding the fifth and sixth grade digital learning initiative taking place at the school. The program is a paperless method of teaching where students use i-pads instead of tablets, notebooks, pens and papers.
Science teacher Joel Fisher demonstrated the use of the "Near-pod" program that he uses to engage the students in and outside of class. The program keeps students involved because they are logged in and receive questions they must answer as the class progresses. He estimated that the digital program has saved more than 10,000 sheets of paper.
Photo by David Prenatt
English and Language Arts teacher Bryna Booth talks about her students experiences with the digital learning initiative to the Sherman Central School Board of Education.
Math teacher Chad Goldberg presented his use of the learning module "Notability," which is an app that allows students to download their lessons and assignments, as well as creates a folder for each student's work.
ELA teacher Bryna Booth showed the board a video created by the students themselves. One of the apps the students use is called Google Hangout, in which they "hang-out" electronically with the teacher and each other outside of class.
Social studies teacher Heather Croscut rounded off the presentations, noting that she has seen an increase in students working together in the digital format. The program allows students to contact teachers outside of class to ask questions, she said.
In other business, Sherman Superintendent Kaine Kelly said the extreme cold has spurred the district to consider contingency plans in case school exceeds its allotted number of snow days. For instance, school was cancelled on Tuesday because of extreme wind chill, but the Regents exam for trigonometry and global studies was scheduled for that day. In this case, Kelly said, the school would transport anyone who needed to take the Regents exam if they wished.
"We are trying not to end up over the number of snow days, but if we do, we end up over because it's about the safety of the kids," he said.
District treasurer Kim Oehlbeck presented some preliminary figures to the board regarding the 2014-15 budget. Several of the departments, including transportation, building maintenance and administration will probably see increases, but several factors, including state aid will result in changes to the current figures, she said.
Also relating to the budget, the board discussed the implications of a new law allowing school districts to reduce the property tax bill for military veterans. Until now, veterans have received a tax reduction, but had to pay back the school portion. Under the law, the amount of the exemptions would be redistributed among the rest of the tax base, so that schools would not suffer a reduction in tax revenue.
Kelly also told the board about reciprocal meetings with Dr. Lauren Ormsby regarding shared services. Ormsby came to Sherman to review the services shared by Sherman, Panama and Clymer districts; and then he traveled to Ripley to review services there, he said.
"We had a lengthy conversation about shared services. I believe we can help each other out and hopefully get them more involved in the consortium we have here," he said.
Kelly also told the board about a request from television station WGPZ in Buffalo requesting information on the football equipment the district uses. The station has sent the request to many area districts and Kelly said he believes it is doing research because of larger national story on the safety of high school football equipment. He said the district will consult its lawyer before releasing any information.