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Schalmont staff gets ready for new school year

Sept. 8, 2015

Schalmont Central School District staff headed back to school today to get ready for the 2015-16 school year.
After enjoying coffee and refreshments, the staff filtered into the high school auditorium where they were greeted by Superintendent Carol Pallas and Schalmont Board of Education President Michael Pasquarella.

Superintendent Pallas“What matters to me, and has always mattered, is the difference you make in students’ lives every day,” Pallas told staff. “‘We are Schalmont’ really does have meaning.”

Pallas’ address focused on the question “Who Owns the Learning?” – a topic explored in-depth by veteran educator Alan November, who will be visiting the school next spring.

“It’s a good question to ask as we start the new year,” Pallas said.

November suggests that in this age of “the empowered learner,” educators can enable students to manage their own learning.

“It is a means of teaching that provides for students to do the heavy lifting, to navigate and problem solve,” Pallas said. “With the acceleration of technological changes in the world, we want our students to experience all they need to be ready for life after school.”

Schlamont staffPart of the preparation includes the district’s long-term plan to integrate technology into the classroom through the one-to-one Chromebook initiative, interactive projectors, digital citizenship classes, the Bring Your Own Device policy and more.

“Students are good at using technology for social purposes but not always academics," Pallas said. “Students need to use technology for learning more these days, but the problem is they haven't been taught how.”

Schalmont Technology Integration Teacher John George espoused further on the topic during his technology plan overview.

“We are in the middle of an educational renaissance,” George said. “Students are able to reach out to the globe, beyond the school wall.”

John GeorgeIn response, he said it is necessary to examine the education process.

“Face-to-face learning is so important,” he stressed, adding “blended learning takes what we’ve done traditionally for years and puts it together with 21-century technology.”

Throughout the year, the district will be rolling out initiatives and tools, such as Schoology, a learning management system, to further assist faculty in melding traditional teaching techniques with the benefits of modern technology.

The advantage is that “these tools can help teachers get things done faster,” George said, adding that teachers can get immediate feedback from students at any time through classroom tools such as live polls and interactive questioning. “We can have real-time discussions about what students are learning in the classroom that moment.”

For more information on the rollout and integration of technology in Schalmont classrooms, download a copy of the district’s long-term technology plan/Smart Schools investment plan.