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One to One initiative helps prepare students for college

Last Modified: Friday, January 31, 2014 4:10 PM

By Kara Carrier / American Press

St. Louis Catholic High School is helping its students be better prepared for college through an innovative technology program called the One to One Initiative.

According to Deborah Frank, president of the school, the program gives every student and teacher a laptop computer to use during the school year. “The students and teachers have access to the latest technology at all times,” Frank said. “Students take notes on their tablets through a software program and can organize their notes digitally, and teachers can use different programs in their lesson plans.” This is the second year the school has used the program, and St. Louis is the first school in Calcasieu Parish to have it, she said.

According to Frank, the program even allows teachers to administer tests and quizzes online, with test results being instantaneous. Frank said that is a major benefit because the teacher knows immediately if the students need more instruction in an area or if they can move on.

“English teachers also use the program a lot,” Frank said. “If they’re reading a selection in literature, the teacher loads that onto the students’ laptops, and the students can use their pens or highlighters as they read, much like they would do in a hardback.”

According to Frank, the school invested in the program after feedback from graduates showed that many didn’t feel as prepared with technology in college as they would’ve liked. “Our graduates do very well when they go on to college, and about 98 percent of our kids do go right into four-year institutions,” she said. “But nowadays you walk into a college classroom, and the first thing they do is tell you to get a zip drive, get a clicker and go online. That was a major factor for us to invest in this program.”

Frank said the school has collaborated with McNeese for research and to make the program more effective. According to Frank, McNeese approached the school after hearing about the program and wanted to do a research project last year.

“We were thrilled because we knew that would give us some data that we didn’t necessarily have time to collect,” Frank said. “For McNeese it gave them a project, and they published a report at the end of the first year we used the program.”

Frank said McNeese did a series of classroom observations and came back with recommendations to improve the program. One recommendation was to hire a full-time instructional technology integration specialist, which the school did. “Our specialist provides training to teachers weekly and is available for one-on-one consultations,” Frank said. “It’s been huge in terms of teacher proficiency and comfort with using the technology because everyone didn’t start out at the same place with their technology skills.”

According to Frank, teachers using laptops and software programs in lesson plans doesn’t replacing teaching. “This is just a tool that can sometimes make a lesson more effective and make the student more engaged,” she said.

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