Classroom gets computer upgrade

The 7- and 8-year-olds in Theresa Dau's second- and third-grade class said they've been using computers for as long as they can remember.

But the shiny new Apple computers in the three-week-old computer lab at Glenoaks Elementary School are something special, students said, and not just because of their $50,000 price tag.

"I like it because they're much bigger than the old computers," said Julia Tharp, a third-grader. "It's fun because usually they are more square and thicker, now they're thinner, and faster too."

From an instructional perspective, they're effective teaching tools, Dau said.

"It opens up another door of opportunity for them, and us as well," she said. "Last year, we felt more limited because of tech issues. Now, we don't have that, and we're very grateful for these."

The computers represent more than two years of fundraising by the school's parent foundation, officials said. Students also put in sweat equity, raising money through Jog-a-Thon fundraisers the last few years, teachers said.

"They know that it's from the foundation, which is basically their parents," Dau said. "They are very careful with it, and have been very responsible."

The computers are fully loaded, complete with grade-level folders and applications. For the advanced learner, there's Microsoft PowerPoint, although the elementary students tend to gravitate toward interactive games like Dance Mat Typing, a letters and keyboarding game, students said.

"It has letters and you type the letters," 7-year-old Karen Guzman said. "You get a bigger level as you make everything right."

On Thursday, students sharpened their reading skills by taking a practice standardized test online.

"It helps you pick out the best books for you, so it's not too easy and it's not too hard," Dau told her students.

Primary grades have 45 minutes each week in the computer lab, a boost of 15 minutes from last year, Dau said. Upper grades spend 60 minutes in the lab.

Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said he wants to implement more technology across the district. In messages to teachers and staff, he's said he's looking for student engagement during school and classroom visits.

The computers amount to instant engagement for student learning, teachers said.

"Kids these days are tech-savvy, and I find myself having to explain less," Dau said. "They are more ready to go, and able and eager to learn."

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