Schools incorporate new iPad technology and new teacher

Baker Public Schools’ second graders are now taking keyboarding classes taught by first year teacher, Lynn (Williams) Beach.

Mrs. Beach teaches keyboarding skills to 2nd grade students at Lincoln School.

By Lisa Kilsdonk

Posted Sept. 14, 2012

Baker Public Schools’ second graders are now taking keyboarding classes taught by first year teacher, Lynn (Williams) Beach. Earning degrees in finance from Montana State University and business education from the University of Montana-Western, Beach fulfilled her student teaching requirements last year under Baker High School business instructor Scott Anderson. Beach is a native of Baker and married to Connor Beach.

Superintendent Don Schillinger commented, “She was a person that we wanted in the system because of our experience with her as a substitute teacher, student teaching, and our experience with her as a student. Even then she demonstrated outstanding character.”

Previously, keyboarding was part of the eighth grade curriculum. Changes in state-mandated achievement testing requiring third graders to be able to type answers to open-ended questions and possibly answer essay-style questions necessitated keyboarding skills being taught to second through sixth graders. (See story on page 16)

Scott Anderson, who also serves as the district’s technology coordinator, readily acknowledged that the majority of school children have contact with a variety of computer technologies including desktops, laptops, iPads, and other tablet-style devices, iPods and mp3 players. “Students, even at that age, are using devices that require keyboarding, so we might as well teach them keyboarding skills early so we don’t have to un-teach them in middle school,” Anderson said.

This year, three computer labs have been added to the elementary schools. One is a desktop lab at Longfellow, the other two are mobile laptop labs in a specially designed cart. Each Belkin cart contains 20 iPads, each with an external keyboard case. The keyboards are smaller than a standard keyboard, making them a great fit for the small hands of a seven to eight year old second grader. Along with keyboarding, the iPads will be available to be used under the direction of classroom teachers utilizing some of the many instructional applications available for download. The Belkin carts store, monitor and charge the 20 iPads they hold, and also allow for simultaneous downloads, making maintaining the mobile laptop lab a bit more efficient for an already busy tech coordinator.

“When we attended the National Career Clusters conference in D.C. this summer, everyone we talked to said not to get iPads without getting the cart,” stated Anderson.

The school district did have some iPads prior to the mobile labs. Some students with communication difficulties have been using them since last year. The iPads are “very effective for non-verbal special education students. There are some really helpful applications developed specifically for this purpose,” stated guidance counselor Cindy Quade.

In addition to teaching keyboarding to all elementary classes from second grade through sixth grade, Beach also teaches Document Formatting, Computer Applications I and II, and Accounting for middle and high school students. Furthermore, Beach will also be serving as the assistant coach for the BHS Speech and Drama and Spartan tennis teams.