Early release day allows for professional development
by James Phillips
Sep 20, 2012 | 2904 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
T.R. Simmons Elementary School Principal Suzanne Snow and Susan Chandler, technology coordinator for Jasper City Schools, hand out iPads to teachers Wednesday afternoon. Photo by: James Phillips
T.R. Simmons Elementary School Principal Suzanne Snow and Susan Chandler, technology coordinator for Jasper City Schools, hand out iPads to teachers Wednesday afternoon. Photo by: James Phillips
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While students in Jasper City Schools were dismissed early Wednesday, classroom learning continued throughout the afternoon.

Superintendent Robert Sparkman said the Jasper School System has scheduled four early release days this school year to allow concentrated time for teacher training. The first of those early release days, on Wednesday, saw students dismissed at 1 p.m.

“Our first early release day went really well,” Sparkman said. “We train throughout the year, but these days will give us a sustained time to work on professional development. Our goal for the training is to help our teachers make better assignments that cause the kids to apply themselves more.”

Susan Chandler, technology coordinator for Jasper City Schools, said teachers were trained Wednesday on Intel Teach, a professional development program that helps educators promote problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration skills among their students. The program also assists teachers on how to better integrate technology into their lessons.

“There are several tools that are available in the Intel program that help promote critical thinking,” Chandler said. “Teachers have been very receptive to Intel. This training will continue throughout the year.”

Jasper teachers also received a piece of technology Wednesday to aid in implementing project-based learning into the classroom when every teaching certified employee in the system received an iPad.

Casey Cornett, a third-grade teacher at T.R. Simmons Elementary School, said teachers were excited about getting the iPads.

“We’ve known that we were getting them for a while, and we’ve all been very excited,” she said. “I think this is a piece of technology that will help take our classrooms to the next level.”

Chandler said a long-term goal for the school system is for each student in grades 3 through 12 to receive an iPad.

“I would like to eventually see all our text books on iPads,” she said.

For now, teachers will use the iPads to help with their lesson plans and to find apps that are related to their instruction. Chandler said several learning-based apps have already been loaded on the teacher’s tablets.

Chandler said much of what is currently being implemented in Jasper has already been put to work in other school systems across the state.

“We’ve been in contact with other systems who have done this sort of thing,” she said. “We’ve been able to share documents and ideas, and they’ve told us some of the mistakes that they made. We’re excited about the technology that is being added in our schools.”

Sparkman said the Jasper Board of Education will consider purchasing iPads for students at its next meeting, scheduled for Monday at 5 p.m.

“This is something that our board has been thinking about for several months now,” he said. “I expect we could have a decision at Monday’s meeting.”

There are three more early release days scheduled for Jasper City Schools this school year — Oct. 31, March 8 and April 24. For more information on those days, visit the school board’s website at jasper.k12.al.us.