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Kids accentuate the positive of computers

Jul 22nd, 2009 | By | Category: Latest News, News

3pupilsA SMALL Lower Hutt school’s focus on computers in the classroom is paying off with enthusiastic kids pleading to do their schoolwork.

Teacher Claire FitzJohn, of Gracefield School, says her pupils are now motivated and excited: “I never had kids wanting to finish work at lunch time, but now they always do.

“They actually get on the computer to play around with the education programmes, not just games.” 

Miss FitzJohn, who has been teaching at Gracefield for seven years and is a member of the school’s e-learning committee, says the more computers in class, the better.   

While a 2008 Education Ministry-sponsored report on technology in the classroom says the average New Zealand primary school has five students for every computer, Gracefield School has this down to four.

Teachers can also pool computers for some sessions, giving the option of two students per computer.

And, Miss FitzJohn says, one day a week, each child can have sole use of a computer.

Year 6 pupil Sapina Vailima (11) says: “It’s a different experience than other schools. Others don’t have as many computers so we’re very lucky.” 

Using Apple laptops and software, the multimedia-savvy kids create comic strips, movies and slideshows reflecting key aspects of their lessons.

Shelly Hickford, whose daughter Nicola (8) and son Karl (11) are pupils at the school, says technology in the classrooms was one feature she looked for when choosing a school for Karl, who is autistic. 

“It was quite important for me when Karl started here that there were computers available, because of course he can’t write. So it was great that they had them.

“He can now actually interact with the other children. Before, he was always something of a loner.”

Since Karl has worked with computers in school he has won the Great Gracefield School Tee-Shirt, an award for participating in school activities, and has been nominated for the Great Gracefield Kid Award. Both awards are voted on by the children. 

Schools must rely on extensive fundraising by their Parent-Teacher Association and grants from charities and trusts to purchase additional computers.

Gracefield School’s computer purchase was made possible by a donation from the Pelorus Trust.

PICTURE: Caitlyn Dahm (10), Sapina Vailima (11) and Lui McCarthy (10) are Gracefield School pupils benefiting from computers in the classroom.

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is is a former Whitireia Journalism student.
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