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New Lure Technology for Caroline Robins School 2013

Written By Julianna Benson on Saturday, March 30, 2013 | 12:42 AM

New Lure Technology for Caroline Robins School 2013New Lure Technology for Caroline Robins School 2013 - Caroline Robins elementary school is about to get
an $800,000 investment to make it a technological hub. If all goes as planned, by next September the underused Westview-area school will be home to a newly renovated resource centre with computers, tablets, video cameras and other equipment, in an effort to change the way students learn.

"We're really trying to set Caroline Robins up as a bit of a lighthouse school for the system, so we can see what's in the realm of the possible," Saskatoon Public Schools deputy director of education Barry MacDougall said.

Teachers from other schools will be invited in to see how Caroline Robins students not just consume information using tech tools, but are challenged to analyze, evaluate, and create.

"The technology is evolving so rapidly, so we want to get out a little bit in front of it," MacDougall said.

Earlier this week, the public school board approved $700,000 to renovate parts of Caroline Robins. Earlier, the board approved another $100,000 for equipment.

The investment comes to a school that already has one of the highest ratios of computers per student of any school in the division - partly due to previous investments in hardware, and partly because of low enrolment.

MacDougall said the plan is to renovate the school's existing prekindergarten and kindergarten areas to become a modern learning resource centre. The division will then renovate classrooms at the front of the school into a primary years suite, adding a door to a new outdoor play area designed for the tots.

The division has also submitted a proposal to the ministry of education to open a new daycare centre in the school's existing library space, MacDougall said.

Withman Jaigobin, division superintendent for Caroline Robins, says beefing up digital equipment isn't simply meant to move work that could be done on paper onto computers (see HERE).

"That will be impressive, the technology we have, but what we want to be more impressive is the instruction and the learning style, and how the students will be interacting - how the students will be learning, and what they'll be producing in the process, which will look different," said Jaigobin, who is also the superintendent responsible for technology in the division.

The initiative, which will start with a focus on children in kindergarten to Grade 4, will challenge students to express their ideas in ways other than putting pen to paper.

Jay Salikin, educational consultant for technology, says class assignments could be done in the form of a video, or a blog post, or in collaboration with someone in another country.

"We're trying to really change the look of the classroom, from the teacher standing at the front lecturing to 30 students, to having the kids working together collaboratively and creating things, and getting into critical thinking," Salikin says.

The program follows the introduction this year of another experiment at two public elementary schools and Marion Graham Collegiate. Rather than confiscating cellphones at the door, teachers encourage students to use them for schoolwork, and loan out some devices from the libraries.

The division chose Caroline Robins as a test site because it's one of a handful of Saskatoon schools that's so underused, it has empty classrooms. Families from the nearby new suburb of Hampton Village are sending most of their children to Dundonald School, which is now over capacity. Caroline Robins, however, could easily accommodate another 100 students (see HERE).

"We have overcrowding issues at Dundonald," MacDougall said. "We are setting out very deliberately to make Caroline Robins as attractive as possible to residents in the neighbouring community."

Including a childcare centre may also help draw more families to the school. This month's provincial budget included funds for 500 new daycare spaces across Saskatchewan. MacDougall hopes to find out later this spring whether Caroline Robins can host 50 of them.
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