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New computers for Intermediate School

"Jackie Gelston’s fourth-and fifth-grade students are getting help from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates this year. Gates is providing computers and software to the class through the Gates Learning Foundation Grant. Gelston, the recipient of a $9,000 grant from the Gates Learning Foundation is integrating the use of computers into her daily classroom activities. The grant was awarded to Gelston after an application process open only to teachers from Washington state. A total of 900 teachers applied and 210 were selected to participate this year.The $9,000 went toward the purchase of seven computers for Gelston’s classroom at the Intermediate School, a laptop for her use during the school year and ongoing training for her as well as the other recipients from around the state. The only cost to the district is to provide substitute teachers for Gelston’s class the three days this year she spends in training. She received four days of intensive training this summer. All of Gelston’s training and travel expenses are paid by the grant. Gelston, who was computer literate before receiving the grant said “It is exciting to watch the kids learn, and I am always learning something new with them.They are very fast learners, in fact she added, I demonstrate something once and they are able to do it on their own.”The first project her students worked on this year was developing an Excel spreadsheet and designing graphs with the data they collected. Gelston said, “I had the students interview each other so they could get to know one another better, and to gather information for their first technology project. Some of the questions the students asked one another were , “Do you love animals?” “Do you listen to pop music?”Have you ever flown in a plane?” and Do you have a computer at home?” Students took the data collected from these “yes “and “no” questions input it on an Excel spread- sheet then designed colorful graphs depicting the information from the spreadsheet. “It was a good exercise in critical thinking for them. Once they had the the information graphed, their next step was to give the graph a name that best described the information it.”The district had four teachers last year who received $9,000 grants from the Gates foundation. They were Sally Thompson, and Nadine Curtis-Day both from the Intermediate School and Wendy Simons and Rachel Kizer from the Middle School.The criteria used in the selection process for the grant money requires that the recipients must be excellent teachers with a strong interest in incorporating technology into the classroom. Some experience in using computers for word processing and email is also required. The purpose of the the grant money is to infuse technology into the curriculum based on the Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements. The technology purchased is district-owned, and the requirement is that all classrooms of the participating teachers must have multimedia computers at a ratio of one computer for every four students, a printer and a presentation device.Gelston is looking forward to more computer projects with her students this year. “This is an opportunity to teach technology to my students so that they can integrate into their daily lives, rather than having them leave the classroom for a tech lab,” She added that this method is more realistic because it demonstrates to the students that computers are a part of everyday life.”"

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