Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Media and Technology Meeting at Southeast Middle School Dec 2011

  • Anne DiPiazza
  • John Downs
  • Kim Gregg
  • Rita Kilgore
  • Deb Neal
  • John Watson
The overall purpose of calling this meeting was to touch base with the members of the media and technology committee; address some specific concerns; and also provide an opportunity to air any questions or concerns.


1) Lab Scheduling/need for additional laptop cart?: (612 lab, 502 lab, Media Center and Laptop cart {or lack thereof} )


Balancing the needs of testing situations and instructional use of the computer labs has become an issue lately. For example, when some teachers want to test small groups for assessments, they often only need computer access for two periods. At the start of the year, we tried to get those teachers to use the 502 laptop lab because of the small size of the room and the small size of these assessment groups.To begin with, the 502 was in bad shape and those teachers had some rough experiences in there. Later, they tended to sign up for the Media Center instead of 502, but this resulted in scheduling conflicts with teachers who wanted to bring in their classes for instructional technology uses.

In an effort to improve the situation in the 502 lab, Mr. Downs did some re-imaging of those older laptops in there and also had to use several of the laptops from the only mobile laptop to make for a room with 28-30 decently working machines. By doing this however, we are more or less taking out the laptop cart for general use in the building.

We discussed the option of buying a new mobile laptop cart for use in classrooms—one that might be more durable and easier to transport than the current ibm cart which is dangerous because of its poor design with wheels that fall off.

We discussed looking at funding options for purchasing a DELL mini laptop cart which is more durable easier to transport and have extended batteries lasting up to 7 hours without needing a charge. The cost is outlined in this spreadsheet:

We can also ask PTA?, perhaps look at other fundraisers and different grant opportunities.

We expressed concern about access to computers with the increased number of tests that have to be taken on-line. For example, we have a field test in 7th grade EOG math coming up in February that may take up to ten days for all classes to complete. Ms. Neal will be working on the scheduling and find out how long the test is supposed to take.

There was also a discussion about the school funding newer computers for CTE keyboarding labs when classes are filled with more than 24 students.  Currently, Kilgore and Daniels have some classes with more than 24 students.  CTE provides only 24 machines per lab.  When classes have more than 24 students are currently using much older and unreliable computers.  Downs suggested the school either needs to look more closely at how these classes are scheduled or look at purchasing new computers.


  • Advise teachers with small groups/separate setting online assessments/makeup’s to first utilize the 502 lab. If the other lab locations are still available on the day of testing, Mr. Downs and Ms Turner are flexible in providing access to the other locations.
  • Pursue funding options for the purchase of a DELL mini laptop cart.
  • The school should provide funds for newer computers in CTE labs if it chooses to add more than the allocated 24 student allotment in CTE

 2) Committee responsibilities in the event of a book challenge:


This topic has arisen as a result of a recent parent concern that was raised about the book Hunger Games being read in 6th grade. The concern made its way to school board members. The teacher did send home a note to parents saying that students were not required to read the book, and could have opted out in favor of an alternative. Parent was alerted to this concern apparently by the content seen in a movie trailer for the upcoming screen adaptation of Hunger Games.

If a challenge is made about a book, should the committee be prepared to read the book in question and offer comments? Or should there be a subcommittee? Need to talk with Ms Gentry?

There was also discussion about how books are vetted in the media center in general and would participants of this committee be interested in helping with that process? Lisa already does extensive “vetting” of books, looking at book reviews, talking to professionals in the subject area, etc.


  • The first stop for a parent should always be the teacher when questioning controversial literature to see if a better understanding on the 'why' a novel was chosen.  Often this will resolve the problem.  
  • Clarify with Ms. Gentry on a "subcommittee" that would serve to evaluate books that are challenged.
  • Continue the current process for selecting books for our school. It is working and we should go with what works.
3) Open Forum/ Questions/Concerns:


Deb Neal—in long term technology planning, she would like to see more sharing of best practices. Lisa and John shared that there are some great instructional lessons happening in the building right now utilizing technology as a tool. Teachers are using “animoto” (http://animoto.com/) to create fantastic videos. Other teachers are using edmodo ( http://wsfcs.edmodo.com/ ) to take tests online and have their students post comments on subject area content. Another team is using live binders (http://www.livebinders.com//) in a research project.  Lisa is anxious to show the staff live binders at the next manic Monday staff development day on Feb 6th.

Downs had a side discussion with Ms. Gregg about suggestions for incorporating technology into math lessons. We discussed an earlier email I sent with some math Prezi’s : (http://prezi.com/user/h2fmihl707pl/ )


  • Think of ways that we can share some best practices for utilizing technology--Faculty meetings, single school culture meetings?  Others?  Committee members--talk to constituents and see what they think.
  • Downs offered to meet with the single school culture group in 6th grade math sometime in January to offer suggestions for utilizing technology in math lessons.
  • Downs will also gather some additional math resources on his blog: http://tjmstechtips.blogspot.com/2010/03/math-resources-will-continue-to-update.html
  • Try and meet again on a Monday in March when there are no other major meetings.

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