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West Branch teachers train on technology

September 1, 2012
By KEVIN HOWELL , Salem News

BELOIT- West Branch staff received different training than usual this year.

Staff Development Coordinator Matt Manley explained the change in staff development this year at the regular school board meeting Thursday night.

According to Manley the staff met in several sessions between Aug. 6 and Aug. 17 to train on three technology programs that teachers are being encouraged to implement in classrooms this year. Typically the staff meets for one all-day training session just before the start of the school year. Manley said every staff member attended the training session.

Manley noted that only 11 percent felt comfortable using the programs following the training, but 42 percent said they at least understood the material. Follow up training sessions based on a survey of concerns of the staff members will be conducted on Sept. 25 and 26 and will focus on uploading information, developing forms and practicing use of the programs.

The August training sessions were led by Christy Biery on Web, Lori Schlueter on Google Documents and Matthew Bowen on iPads for kindergarten through second-grade staff members.

Manley highlighted two programs that he said will make a big difference this year- Google Documents and IEPAnywhere.

With Google Documents, teachers can use free programs to gather information from students and receive instant feedback, Manley explained. The programs use current tools such as cell phones to collect information, he said, using as an example a survey of board members by having them text an answer from their phones that were projected instantly onto a screen. The district has 43 licenses per class to use Google Documents.

"It's going to make it a lot easier to determine what the students know," he said.

Manley also explained the benefits of the free online program IEPAnywhere, which is being offered on the staff area of the district's website.

He told the board that the program eliminates the use of paper of the IEP packets distributed to teachers at the beginning of each year. The district has 300 IEP students and each packet requires 15 pages of paper. To distribute the packets to each necessary teacher requires 45,000 pieces of paper that sit in desk drawers all year before being shredded. With IEPAnywhere, the district is projected to save $2,250, he said.

Kevin Howell can be reached at



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