For the Kent Reporter
Finding the right balance between handwriting and keyboarding isn’t easy. School districts throughout the country are challenged to choose between one or the other as students are asked to work with either a pencil or a computer keyboard.
Despite research demonstrating how important handwriting is for learning and critical thinking skills, as students move up in grade levels they are often required to put down their pen or pencil and begin keyboarding exclusively. Even as math and science standards call for students to demonstrate their thinking and engage in design work, students are limited to using the keyboards of standard laptops as the only means of interacting with or creating new information. This can be difficult and doesn’t promote an environment for maximum learning.
While this might be the case in other districts, an original program is underway in the Kent School District (KSD) where students are being provided an increasingly balanced support for the way they learn and think. For the first time this fall, KSD is delivering convertible laptop/tablets to elementary schools as it moves closer to fulfilling its promise to voters of one-to-one computing for all grades by the 2019-2020 school year. Secondary students will receive the new convertible devices beginning with the freshman class in fall 2018.
These HP ProBook X360 11 EE convertible tablets combine the powerful computing features of a standard laptop with the versatility and handwriting-ready surface of a touch-screen tablet. Each device is equipped with a smart stylus (digital pen) allowing students and their teachers to write and draw with digital “ink.” To support the ongoing roll out of these devices, the district has designed the first-of-its-kind “Digital (th)Inking Institute.” In preparation for each institute, the teacher librarians at each KSD elementary school are invited to bring one or more teachers to attend these one day, immersive professional learning experiences by focusing on enhancing students’ thinking by using digital ink.
During each six-hour Digital (th)Inking Institute, attendees work together to understand the importance of digital inking in classroom instruction and to explore resources that come built in to the new devices for literacy, math, science and research. Attendees practice using different digital inking tools and learn how they can be applied to support student learning.
The first session of the Digital (th)Inking Institute was on Nov. 10 with participants from throughout the district’s elementary schools giving enthusiastic feedback about the course and its content. The next session is Dec. 18, and the district expects to continue to offer the institutes as an ongoing instructional support as more of these devices arrive in elementary classrooms.
The new convertible devices were selected after an extensive evaluation by staff and students to find the best value for the district. Not only did KSD select a top-quality device for years of student learning, but the process resulted in savings of $25 per computer compared to current elementary devices and more than $150 per computer compared to current secondary devices. KSD purchases between 6,000 and 7,000 student devices annually, which would not be possible without community support in voting for the technology levies or using levy dollars voted on by the community.
Lowe’s gives back
The Kent Mountain View Academy received $2,500 in donations from the local Lowe’s Kent store on Pacific Highway before Thanksgiving.
Store managers Brad Cole-Morrison and Chris Perkins personally delivered school supplies for classrooms, playground equipment and a new microwave for student lunches.
“Our students spotted packages of colored construction paper and brand-new rubber balls for recess and called out – are those for us?” said Principal Stephanie Knipp.
Additionally, Lowe’s employees installed wire fencing to protect a hill from erosion and will re-seed the area in the spring. Lowe’s is also building picnic tables for the outdoor lunch area for students. A third-grade student said she can’t wait for the Lowe’s people to come back and plant the baby grass seeds so she can watch it grow.
“This is the truest sense of community; people coming together to care for our children. Through these gifts, our Lowe’s community is planting something else at KMVA –an opportunity for our students to experience kindness and express gratitude,” Knipp said.
Western Washington University student Jaleen Grace Roberts, daughter of Kathleen Roberts of Kent, received the $900 Arevalo-Hayes Scholarship and $1,500 Bellingham Ultimate Meagan Smith Memorial Scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year. The Arevalo-Hayes Scholarship is awarded to incoming under-represented women Western students who have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and who also demonstrate commitment related to women’s issues, mentoring others, and involvement in their community. The Bellingham Ultimate Meagan Smith Memorial Scholarship is awarded to Western Students in the Liberal Studies Department who demonstrate outstanding academic merit. Roberts graduated from Kent-Meridian High School in 2017. She is majoring in psychology and school counseling. …
Inspirus Credit Union fully-funded 21 projects for 21 teachers on DonorsChoose.org on Nov. 28. The project donations totaled $10,046.23 that will go directly toward supporting teachers and their classrooms. According to Morgan Cole, public relations specialist for Inspirus, the effort supported two projects in Kent. “At Inspirus Credit Union, we’re proud to continue to serve the education community across the state of Washington on Give Tuesday, and everyday throughout the year,” Cole said.