Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 25
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
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District Considers Integrating Technology in All Classrooms

Ellen Gilbert

“How can technology be integrated into K-5 education?” asked School Superintendent Judy Wilson as she began her lengthiest report of the evening at last week’s Board of Education meeting.

Citing a “need for us to know our framework and have consistency; to be ready for mandated assessment, and more recently, just since January, to understand and embrace standards that are about to be adopted by the Board of Education for all grade levels,” Ms. Wilson described how the district will attempt to build a “technology strand” into all content standards.

“It’s pure integration,” she observed. Rather than segregating technology, it is “critical” that “children should experience it within the context of math, science, and other subjects, in the context of all classrooms,” and “not just with technology teachers.”

“New guidelines providing for “deeper and wider content in terms of technology” are likely to be “very specific about when students should be exposed to technologies,” she observed. These changes, she said, will affect training expectations, and the use of resources, personnel, and instructional time.

“This is not a budgetary issue in any way,” Ms. Wilson noted. Key elements of the new standards, “shaped by teachers across the state, regarding literacy, critical thinking, and enhanced understanding of global interdependencies, are not optional, and we have a very long way to go.”

“It is not about criticism of the past, or anything that went wrong,” she said. “It is about looking forward and embracing what is the right thing to do.” Under a three-year plan called “Creating 21st Century N.J. Schools,” workshops for teachers are scheduled to begin this summer.

One of Ms. Wilson’s easier tasks last week was accepting a $23,800 check from the Princeton Education Foundation (PEF). Describing them as an “unsung hero organization” that has done “a marvelous job” of raising money for the Princeton Regional Schools (PRS), Ms. Wilson said that the money will be used to enhance instructional technology in Princeton High School math classrooms. Noting that “math would have had to wait another year otherwise,” she added that “when math teachers were informed of the gift, we could hear them from Moore Street.”

The “amazing partnership” enjoyed by PEF and PRS resulted in a total contribution of $139,000 to Princeton’s public schools last years, Ms. Wilson reported.

Other news at last week’s meeting included the announcement that, in order to comply with state regulations, the district’s school entrance date has been changed from September 30 to October 1.

Ms. Wilson reported that there were “many cases of unconfirmed flu,” with “dozens of students across the district with flu-like symptoms.” With Monday, June 22 the last day of school, she advised ailing students not to return to school this term. Federal government and Center for Disease Control announcements suggest, she said, that the district will be in for a “very difficult flu season this fall.”

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