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Tyrone Academy demonstrate to the school board about use of Pilots in classroom

In the traditional classroom setting, the teachers teach and the students learn. With the Academic Academy at the Tyrone Area High School, sometimes it is a different story.
When this reporter attended Tyrone High School, it was thought that we were on the cutting edge of technology. Our math classes were part of one of the first classes at Tyrone to use computers. When we got the teletype to insert the word bizz for the number three and buzz for the number seven, we thought we were geniuses. Tuesday night, the Academic Academy of Tyrone High School showed how advanced the thinking is for this generation.
“We use the Palm for note taking, which is very useful because we take a lot of notes,” said Zoe Yeaton, an Academic Academy student. “We take notes in Mrs. Burket’s U.S. history class and we take a lot of notes in Mr. Nale’s class (Academic Biology). When we take the notes there are two ways we can do it. We can use the stylus in a program called graffiti to write our notes in or we can use a keyboard and hook it up to the Palm Pilot and type in our notes. It is much easier on the hands typing the notes because you would get writers cramp eventually using the stylus. We also use the keyboard to type up essay’s in our English class.
“Another thing we can do is after we type up our notes, we can take the Palm hand held home and use this device to sync it up to our computer,” Yeaton continued. “We would then download the notes we took in class onto our home computer and we can print it out on paper and take them to school to use there. With the use of the Palm, it makes your notes a lot clearer and you won’t have to worry about not being able to read what you wrote earlier.”
Yeaton added that one of the big benefits of the Palm hand held for is agendas.
“We used to have agendas that were like little books and they would get doodled on, get stickers put on or get ripped apart,” said Yeaton. “With the Palm hand held that we use in the Academic Academy people can write it on their planner. We can use it to keep track of what projects are due, what assignments are due. You can write down each assignment and check it off as you complete it.”
Yeaton’s twin brother Zac talked about the gaming capabilities of the Palm.
“The Palm has gaming capabilities that you can download or beam onto,” said Zac Yeaton. “It is a pretty cool capability. Some of the games are pretty complicated. There are games such as Tetrus, Monopoly, Battleship and Clue for the Palm Pilot. You can buy Sim City for it where it is a simulation game where you build cities, get rid of old roads, build new commercial zones and make residential areas for your people. You can have that on your Palm.
Zac Yeaton noted the games have multiple player mode.
“You can link up through a cable or sit across from each other and use an infra-red and play with others,” said Yeaton. “If you don’t keep it in a three foot range, the IR will just quit the game.”
Nathan Barber spoke to the board about the teaching uses of the Palm Pilot.
“The teachers have used this new technology to communicate with students,” said Barber. “In U.S. History, we are required to type daily agendas from the board which in turn are checked at the end of each marking period. In English we have recently completed a project that involves beaming World War I poems back and forth. Each group was assigned a poem and would read the poem off of their Palm. In Biology, we take notes about current in-class projects. In the beginning of the year we received a program called the chem table which included most all the information about the perodic table of elements. We will use this later in the year. You can click on an element and learn all the information about it. In math, we have definitions and keywords in the lesson for the day.”
Matt Elder spoke to the board about the interaction of the Palm. He demonstrated the ability to hook up a portable keyboard and the use of the Infra-red port.
“Possibly in the future we could use our Palms as textbooks,” said Elder. “That would eliminate the use of having to carry around textbooks. We could store the books on little chips. Plug them in and go to the chapter.”
Elder has a plan for teachers to help the students to work ahead.
“At the beginning of the year, teachers could give us all of our assignments so we could work ahead,” said Elder. “They could even give us our test dates so we could study ahead for the tests. It could help us be even more prepared. With the textbooks on the Palm, we could read the chapters in advance.”
Elder summed up his thoughts on the use of the Palm in the classroom.
“The possibilities are endless with the Palm,” said Elder. “In the future it could be used for anything. It is only limited by the imagination of the teachers and the students who use them.”
Mark Nale, high school science department chair, talked of his use of the Palm in the classroom.
“A fair number of my students take notes with their keyboards,” said Nale. “I found it difficult to write the notes by hand. I don’t force the technology on the students. Some of them use it daily and some of them use infrequently. We just completed a segment in which the students could use their hand helds for open notes for the last exam. Everyone brought their hand held that day.”
Nale also spoke of the opportunity for the students to eliminate note taking and get into the meat of the course.
“We don’t want to take valuable class time for notes,” said Nale. “We want to get deeper into things. With the Palm, I can beam the accompanying notes and use the class time to expand on the various topics.”
Using technology in the classroom is one of the ways the Tyrone School District is working toward giving its students the best education possible.