Teacher Support and Motivation
Renovation of the Staff Work Area
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One computer for 115 staff! And the garbage can in your face!
Our second project is one that will show our gratitude to our past teachers while supporting today’s classroom teachers in the hard work they do each day for Panther students. The project will provide an efficient, functional, attractive teachers’ lounge and work area. Teachers are more able to devote their best efforts to students and instruction with the support of the Foundation. Taking on the project became a priority after the Board of Directors visited the area early in the fall of 2009. The pictures below barely begin to describe the overcrowded area, the lack of computer support, the issue of garbage cans “in your face” and the huge “elephants” in the room (copy machines, drink machine, refrigerator from the avocado sixties, snack machine, and huge long conference table).
Also, there is only one very high window with little light. When you walk into the room, it is not a pleasant experience—in short a stuffy, smelly, dark, dreary, crowded area for the use of over 110 teachers!
Very crowded conditions with long conference table, copy machines, and limited sitting areas!
We determined that we would need to gather quite a bit of money for this project due to the incredibly bad condition (from mice, to noise, to shoddy work conditions, and more!) Visitations soon made clear the appalling condition of the space! We assumed it would take $20,000 for a renovation and redecoration project which would provide both a well-organized work area and a retreat during planning time.
The teachers’ lounge (as most of us know it) is really for a staff work area where a great many activities take place. The work area fulfills all kinds of purposes. Just a few examples are listed below:
- A small group meeting of teachers may use it for a working lunch to work out some details of class instruction, plans for new policies implementation, or discussions of discipline issues
- Teachers use the area to talk privately about a student they all have in class who is having grave difficulty and determine possible solutions to help the student achieve more
- Teachers use the area to plan for the coming week’s instruction, to grade papers, and to stop in for posted announcements
- They use the computer access to monitor appropriate web sites for upcoming lessons and to input information that must be collected according to policy
- The teacher who must phone a parent about a health or discipline issue may use the area away from other students’ ears to discuss the situation
- The area is a quick stop in the early morning for a cup of coffee to help get through the day or a quick snack to re-energize for the toughest class of the day
- It also can be the one place where a teacher who has been on his or her feet all day can take a quick rest and put those sore feet up for just a few minutes
In short, the teachers’ staff work area is an integral part of any school set-up. It is sorely needed due to the kind of work that teachers do every day—on their feet, disciplining a good-sized group of teenagers (different each period!), handling emergency situations, competing for the attention span of media-trained minds, and hoping that students are learning the content they must teach! And then they start all over again for the next day while planning for the next week!
A plan began to unfold for renovation and redecoration for a more usable space. Through useful contacts the Foundation was able to engage an architect available from one of our Board members to establish the overall plan. The architect was directed to work without financial consideration of the costs involved. The original estimate based on the plan then became more than $25,000. This included construction, electrical and plumbing work, cabinetry and shelving, carpeting and painting, new refrigerator and microwave, renovation of the two bathrooms including tile, along with furnishings for meetings and discussions. This was designated as a critical project to complete. Schools have difficult times recruiting and keeping knowledgeable and highly competent teachers. Powell is dedicated to having a superb teaching staff and the condition of the staff work area helps keep and gain great teachers!
Board Officers Tony Buhl, president, Kevin Sparks, treasurer, And Sharon McIntosh, secretary, get a summary of the sticky note results. Principal Ken Dunlap and architect A.J. Summers explain plans.
Teachers were asked for their input about the plans. Sticky notes attached to different questions and categories allowed them to post their opinions about the needs for the renovation and change to take place.
Tony Buhl, Foundation president, reviews their opinions as Ken Dunlap, principal, and others look on.
Our architect explains the plan to the Foundation as final decisions begin to be made. Collection of monies has begun and the Class of 1959 has responded with substantial funds.
A.J. Summers, our architect and planner, explains the staff Work area renovation plans at the Board meeting.
Meanwhile, Ken Dunlap principal works with Knox County Schools establishing a calendar for the work that must be done. Quickly, things begin to take shape. The work area is stripped of all equipment and contents during late November and early December, 2009. Work begins during the winter break and continues into January, 2010!
Work underway; carpet tiles delivered!
Tony Buhl, PHS Class of 1959 and Foundation president, displays carpet tile beside new cabinets already installed; just waiting for countertops!
Ceiling tiles are almost finished and ceiling fans are installed; air will be much fresher and healthier in renovated space!
Ken Dunlap, principal talks with one of the Knox County workmen while Kevin Sparks, Foundation treasurer looks on, thinking about costs! Every penny for funding has been collected at this point!
Now the new work area is close to being finished. Furniture and a new refrigerator are waiting for installation. Teachers are anxious for the area to be opened as the efficient, clean, and effective work space to support their planning and instruction!
Watch this site for more updates on the work area and pictures of the new space!
Technology in the Classroom
I-Pod storage and charging unit
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Our first project was identified and voted for funding unanimously. An I-Pod storage and charging unit for a classroom set of I-Pods is now installed in the freshman geography classroom, a high-tech enhancement for motivation and ease of communication with classroom work!
New projects may be applied for using our Foundation Grant Request.
Denise Watts, PHS teacher, reported to us about the implementation of the I-Pod storage and charging unit for her geography classes, our first project. She and the students are very excited about the use in the initial stages. Each student has a code name so that privacy of work can be maintained. They are using blogs already to discuss geographic concepts. Ms. Watts has implemented a question of the day periodically which each student can answer, and she can check immediately and reply.
The central office tech group came out to make sure the technical end was totally updated and on target. The classroom instruction is already making use of available links and creative student work based on I-Pod use. Ms. Watts also noted that the use of technology of this type really helps with student involvement with the instruction. They are still getting used to it and the navigation involved. She did poll the classes and probably no more than five in each class have access to an I-Pod at home so she is working on their getting used to this motivational tool. The Foundation is very proud to have provided the funds for this project.
In the News: PHS geography class using new I-Pod technology!
Student working with I-POD
Using I-Pods in the classroom provides the opportunity to study geographic content and connect to issues such as economic development, disease and famine, and other concerns that our earth is facing. The I-Pod unit allows for efficient use of space and energy for these innovative student tools.
By Greg Householder of Powell Shopper-News
Thanks for providing us the following article to adapt for our web site! Earlier Foundation articles appear in the Powell Shopper-News archives. Watch for new articles as they appear!
“Mom! I need to get an iPod for school!” Yeah right, thinks Mom. Nice try. As school begins, kids come home with all kinds of demands for the new year—scientific calculators, trumpets, football cleats – maybe – but iPods? What’s an “iPod” anyway? For the technologically challenged, iPods are small hand-held devices made by Apple Computer that function essentially the same as a computer. Apple also makes a cell phone version called the iPhone.
Mr. Dunlap, principal, and Ms. Watts, teacher of the World Geography I-Pod class
If Powell High School socials studies teacher Denise Watts’ World Geography class is any indication, the conversation above might not be so far-fetched. Watts’ class is piloting a program at PHS using the iPod Touch. One moves through applications and surfs the internet using nothing more than a finger tip slid across the small screen. If typing is needed, with the flick of a finger a standard keyboard comes up on the screen. One will not produce typing speeds of 70 words per minute on the small display but at least words can be entered.
Imagine the classroom of the future – desks are replaced with comfy “pod chairs.” Books and backpacks will be a thing of the past, relegated to history like metal lunch buckets and book satchels. At the teacher’s desk sits a laptop computer and a contraption that reminds one of the R2D2 robot from Star Wars. In the “robot,” called an “iPod charging and synchronization station” rests the class iPods – all recharging and getting tomorrow’s assignments downloaded from the teacher’s laptop. Students are doing homework on their personal iPods and will synchronize them during class as they work on the classroom devices.
The future, or at least a glimpse into it, is available right now in Watts’ class. “We’re using it as a supplement to books right now,” says Watts. With a “crawl, walk, run” approach to the new technology, Watts’ class uses the devices to blog, search Wikipedia, send her messages and answers to her questions.
While iPods are neat things, as yet, they are not full blown computers. There are about 100,000 applications available from Apple – some free, others with a small cost. These applications or “apps” range from music programs, to games, to productivity software. Currently, the PHS class uses only the free software.
Only five of the 20 students in Watts’ class have either an iPod or iPhone at home. Last week the class completed an assignment to find and research three sites in the Middle East. The students used the iPods to surf the internet in search of answers to the assignment.
The iPod technology is still rapidly developing. The devices, while less expensive than a laptop or desktop computer at around $250 each, will most likely in a few years have the full capabilities of a regular computer.
While subjects such as geography make a good match for the iPod, math teachers would have to be more creative in its use. Surfing the internet does not help one grasp the intricacies of trigonometry. But it’s coming. And the kids at PHS are charting new territory.