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Pieces of the technology puzzle

At a recent Curriculum Board meeting, I was asked to write a Patriot Perspective article about technology in the Pequot Lakes School District.

The request was for a “who’s who and what do they do” when it comes to our technology mission and responsibilities. The request seemed simple at first — just list the people and explain what they do.

But the more I thought about it, the more difficult the task became. The people were many and the tasks innumerable. I realized just how complex our technology puzzle is and how grateful I am for the efforts of everyone involved.

And so, before I list the personnel “pieces” of this great puzzle, I need to acknowledge and thank the PTA and community for facilities, equipment and infrastructure; the administration and school board for vision and direction; the secretarial staff for Excel rosters and testing support; the building maintenance staff for distribution and installation; the teachers and building tech teams for classroom implementation and instruction; and the parents for encouragement and guidance.

As Vince Lombardi said, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” Technology is definitely a combination of great efforts. And with the recent purchase of new instructional equipment and a team approach to setting tech goals, we are well on our way to great achievements.

Now for the “who’s who” in our technology and media department:

• Consolidated Telecommunications Company, Information Technology (CTCIT) provides remote and occasional onsite support. The list of services include the following, to name just a few:

Email system backup, administration, resolution of issues; software updates and roll out schedule and strategy; network infrastructure, debugging and troubleshooting; firewall rule base configuration; policy administration for remote workforce; traffic and log analysis; monitor interface errors; security policies, practices and compliance; incident, service and emergency response; backups on up to 10 servers and up to 50 network devices; active directory; system administration, applications, updates/upgrades; maintain core OS requirements for services and support; infrastructure design for system and service requirements; general debugging and monitoring of system health; disk space utilization monitoring and proactive maintenance; Premonition Monitoring on up to 55 devices; 24 X 7 automated monitoring/alerting.

• Josh Gibbons is our onsite computer technician who is CompTIA A+ certified.

His certification covers the fundamentals of computer technology, installation and configuration of PCs, laptops and related hardware, and basic networking, as well as the skills required to install and configure PC operating systems, as well as configuring common features (e.g. network connectivity and email) for mobile operating systems Android and Apple iOS.

His 40-hour work week finds him in the classrooms of all the teachers district wide. Josh is the first call for “help” as he responds to all the tech support emails.

CTCIT backs him up on problems he can’t easily solve and provides him with onsite support when needed.

• Brian Kazmierczak is our district technology integrationist.

A licensed social studies teacher and coach, Brian draws on his classroom and team experiences as he collaborates with tech teams and teachers pursuing technology projects/websites connected to classroom content. He supports and works directly with curriculum leaders as they examine, pilot and implement tech connections to the classroom.

After surveying and researching, he advises and carries out equipment purchases and installations. He provides staff development training on instructional devices and strategies. His work helps the teachers as they weave 21st century techniques into classroom instruction.

• Brenda Helmrichs teaches computer applications in grades 5-7.

Fifth- and sixth-grade students learn the basic keyboarding skills and formatting tools in Google Docs. They create one-page reports, write emails and work with tables.

Also included are open source programs such as Weebly where students develop web pages and Animoto to create 30-second videos.

Seventh-grade students expand their sixth-grade skills and work with all the apps in Google Docs. In the Document App they key reports, letters and emails. With the Spreadsheet app, students learn basic formulas and create charts.

Google’s Presentations, Forms, Drawing and the open source tool Prezi allow students to create visual presentations. Students also use the Mac applications of GarageBand, iMovie and burning iDVDs. All applications and skills can then be used throughout the course of their day and with class assignments.

• Pat Kvale is the district media specialist.

For the past 20 years, she has developed the book collection in both the elementary and middle level/high school libraries and is now expanding the K-12 reading opportunities to include ebooks for our electronic bookshelf.

To share her love of books and promote her philosophy of reading for sheer enjoyment, Pat has led a Middle Level Book Club for the past five years.

In addition to the book collection and club, she teaches Information Literacy Skills to the K-4 students. These skills include basic computer skills, the use of databases, research of information and ways to stay safe on the Internet.

(Laurie Wig is director of curriculum, assessment and instructional technology for the Pequot Lakes School District.)