JQ Tech FAQ

Technology Plan for JQ

Currently:  

  • 10 refurbished laptops
  • 29 IPads 4 years old and failing
  • 5 mini IPads 2 years old
  • document cameras
  • projectors
  • 31 desk top computers in computer lab 8 years old

Proposed (In this order):

  • 1 projector to finish outfitting classrooms
  • 25 mini IPads plus charging cart
  • 5 Document cameras to ensure one/classroom
  • 20 refurbished laptops

This 5 year wish list has been put together by the teachers as a result of them polling together their needs and coming up with devices that would best meet those needs. The list that resulted is detailed above.  They have included an explanation of how they are currently using the equipment as well as how they would like to use each piece of the requested equipment to enrich and deepen learning beyond what they are now doing. It is detailed below.

PAC has compiled some questions and answers that we hope are helpful to guide you through our proposal:

Why do we need more tech ?

In order to keep pace with the world around us and take advantage of the learning opportunities that tech provides. The teachers would like to teach and lead how to safely and efficiently use technological tools to deepen and broaden the level of learning in projects and topics when they see the opportunity. They would like to motivate those that need something more tangible like a photo, or address those who have processing challenges that need a different input or output avenue. They want to encourage creative writing and storytelling, offer a different approach to those that are having some trouble with a math topic. The teachers would also like to give parents an eye into the classroom and address concerns of the report card that doesn’t seem to really speak about our child’s abilities by documenting your particular child’s work. In order to do all of these things the children need access to the devices.

The biggest stumbling block is that currently we do not have enough devices for the teachers to accomplish this on a regular enough basis that would provide consistent learning. The desk tops are 8 years old and very slow taking 30 minutes to load. In addition, it is possible that due to legislated changes to classroom size, the computer lab may be converted to a classroom. Our iPads began as a group of 30 and are beginning to fail, we have 29 currently. With only 10 laptops there are not enough for individual research and word processing. Teachers are sharing these devices amongst themselves and need to allow time for recharging and consideration for 436 other students. Sustained projects become rushed or incomplete.

What about our desk top computers ?

The aging desk tops will be moved to the library and other locations were students can still access them. Currently this room is used 90% of the time.

What will the iPads be used for ?

IPads are helpful devices in the move towards greater transparency in assessment, where work is photographed and documented. Additionally, some of the apps they offer are fantastic such as Book creator (creative writing), Barefoot world atlas and national geographic, Toontastic, puppet pals (creative story writing), Hopscotch (coding), Geoboard (math), Wonder’s of the Universe and Star walk (space), Miss Spell’s Words (spelling), Arithimtick (math) to name a few. They are useful in the younger grades when keyboards and coordination are sometimes tricky, and work very well to engage children who are drawn to visual images for learning. They also provide teachers with a tool for art projects such as photography, movie making and music recording.

What will the laptops be used for ?

Laptops excel at word processing and research. They offer a different window into the tech world through Microsoft office and google that has become prevalent in high school and beyond.  They are also used to teach proper typing technique for efficient document creation.

How often will the children get to use the devices ?

That will depend on the teacher, the project, and availability. It will vary greatly from week to week, however, it would be reasonable to assume that the children have access to a tech device 1-2 hours per week under supervision.

Projectors ?

These are used to project work using an iPad, document cameras, student’s projects and so on; the list is long!  They are also useful for transitional moments such as in directing students onto what they should be doing next.

Document Cameras ?

These support agenda skills and ease demonstrations.  They are used for storytelling and to support students’ with visual needs.

Are there any studies that document better learning with technology at school?

Yes, there are!  Try this one:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131210-ipad-learning-education-space-science/

or this article that sites a few studies:

http://www.securedgenetworks.com/blog/8-Studies-Show-iPads- in-the-Classroom-Improve-Education

Ultimately it is difficult to measure learning because it affects us in such diverse and far reaching ways. Consider children who become better creative writers because they can animate their story, or who are excited about delivering a computer generated persuasive letter to your mail box enticing you into that pet you’ve been resisting, or maybe it’s the understanding that comes from a great video on third world problems that makes them want to contribute, could it be the excitement of seeing the wall of China that encourages an interest in travelling ? Or maybe it’s bringing the whole world into perspective with one great video ? We could go on and on. Technology brings the world around us closer for our inspection. It’s hard to quantify that.

Can I donate Equipment ?

Unfortunately not. All our equipment needs to be purchased through the VSB. They in turn give us bulk purchasing rates and they provide constant support particularly in the event there is dysfunction.

After we buy the tech, is there a plan to support the teacher’s in their tech learning ?

Yes! The VSB supports teachers learning through a VSB employed technology educator. We are also very fortunate at JQ to have tech minded teachers who share their learning. Many of them have shared report card ideas, apps, troubleshooting and general tech tips and tricks. JQ is a well supported tech community.

I’ve heard that these devices produce radiation, has this been considered ?

Yes, in fact several common household items emit low level radiation such as cordless phones, cellular phones, wireless routers, microwave ovens, Bluetooth devices, radios, even granite counter-tops, and Grandma’s China may. In moving forward, we do need to be extremely cautious and respectful of any radiation and ensure it is properly addressed. Some ideas we will be considering are:

  • Teachers to be able to turn off routers when not in use
  • Transmitting devices can ‘normally’ be turned off
  • Routers can be selected with adjustable power settings.

How much Money do we need to raise ?

We need to raise $26, 198 for the listed equipment if we purchased it yesterday. Unfortunately, the prices have started to climb. We have had to wait on the purchase of the projector because the price escalated from $708 to $1300 earlier this year. Our goal therefore is raise $30,000 to account for price increases. We will however begin purchasing as soon as we are able to ensure the best prices and that our children take advantage as soon as possible.

We pay taxes, shouldn’t this money come from the VSB?

Yes! In a perfect world, the VSB would equip our schools with programming and equipment from sports through to art and tech, the reality is this is likely not forth coming. If we wait for this to happen with government dollars, it might never.

As a community, we have not been sitting idly. Our community, including JQ, several other schools and community members, have organized letter writing campaigns and groups to be present to speak out against budget cuts and school closures. Last year in particular, several parents and our students raised their voices against program cuts, including our strings program. They were loud and fierce, with heartfelt speeches; however, it wasn’t enough, our beloved string program was cut.

Our kids spend a great majority of their time learning in school, it would be best if that time were spent learning with tools that are engaging, enriching, and relevant to the rest of their lives.  We don’t have to wait for the slow mechanics of government to catch up, we can deliver at least some of those tools more immediately. Tools that will impact our children, now.

We are certainly not alone in looking for equipment for our school. There are many teachers and PACs that are trying to do their best to outfit their schools outside of the VSB’s funding. That being said, any money that comes from the VSB in the future can be put to work, or if our policies uphold it, be put into an endowment fund.

We already Contributed money to Direct Donation, Can We Apply That Money?

Yes! We have a regular amount of money that goes towards tech.   The PAC operating budget gets set each year in June and presented at the PAC general meeting for your approval by vote. This year our budget for tech is $3,000. The $26,845 that we collected from direct donation is spread out as thinly and as wisely as we can in as many areas as possible to ensure our children get as balanced and full an experience as possible. If you are interested, our budget can be found on our PAC website. Rest assured our allotted $3000 will be put towards our $30,000 need. In addition, we have combed through our budget and clawed back any extra amounts that were possible. For example, at Christmas we spent less on appreciation gifts for non- teaching staff, we turned our Parent Educational evenings into fundraisers and invited the community (making back the money we spent on the event and then some in the case of Screenagers), we skipped our usual free community events for families such as skating, Lego night and Byng family swim, we have plans to cut back on the end of year Carnival d’Ete, etc…We have been trying our best to stretch our dollars. We are parents too, we also contribute to our direct donation, the grade 7 trip, and all of the fundraising that happens all year long. That is why we will NOT be making another general ask for money from parents.

Do we have a Plan ?

We sure do! The JQ Parents Advisory Council has been hard at work in consultation with the teachers and administration since September sorting out what we need, how much, and how to get this all accomplished. One thing we parents all agree on, is that if we are going to put the work forward to raising this money, we want our children to benefit from it. With that in mind we have consulted with an experienced non-profit fundraising expert to help us raise these funds now. She has helped us put together a plan that will see the whole school become involved in fundraising, avoid asking families for a general money ask, and raise the money in record time. Her fundraising plan has 3 prongs: whole school involvement, interested family donations, and finally, corporate and small business donations.

Whole school involvement:

Since all of our children will benefit from supplementing tech, we came up with a plan, that would see all of us contributing to our success, in a way in which we are able, that does not involve our after-tax dollars. The plan is: The Great Big JQ Garage Sale! We propose that the JQ community come together and sell the excess stuff under beds, in closets and garages, bake some goodies, or offer their services (like dog walking) to raise money from the greater community. We thought it would be fantastic to come together in one great big reuse, recycle, reduce celebration benefitting tech. This plan allows for everyone to be involved in a way that they are able.

 

Interested Family Donations:

Families who are interested may of course donate. We have several who have already asked to do so. The VSB offers tax receipts for any donation over $25.

 

Corporate Donations:

We have put together a corporate package asking for donations from local businesses and tech companies. Our committee will call, knock on doors and book appointments to try to raise the shortfall. If you have a connection, you think might be helpful please let us know at jqpacexec@gmail.com

Sounds Great! Why not get all the money from corporations ?

Corporations and small businesses may be open to donating money to our tech fund for a corporate tax write off, BUT, only if we show that we are a community that gets behind our kids. We need to show them that we have made efforts to raise this money by ourselves. There are many, many schools and organizations out there that need money for various projects, many more needy than our westside school. We need to demonstrate we care and we are motivated to make this happen for ourselves.

Ok, Ok….How can I help ?

You can help by lending a hand with the Great Big JQ Garage Sale scheduled for May 27th. There are many, many ways you can help from donating your excess clothes, household items, games and books to organizing, sorting, setting up, selling, and cleaning up. For a full list of opportunities please check out our website for the volunteer sign up sheet. You can also donate money. All receipts over $25 are eligible to receive a tax receipt from the VSB. Cheques can be made payable to JQ PAC. Please contact Heather Brunt for more details jqpacexec@gmail.com.


We hope these have answered your questions. However, if you have more questions or have a comment, please email us: jqpacexec@gmail.com