Westlake Middle School Gets Grant For High-Tech Learning

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Westlake Middle School received a grant that will allow the school to enhance its use of technology in the classroom. Photo Credit: Robert Michelin

THORNWOOD, N.Y. – The days of reading a book aloud to classmates are soon coming to an end for English and social studies students at Westlake Middle School in Thornwood, thanks to a technology grant the school received through the Southern Westchester BOCES.

"It's certainly going to engage the students in the lesson and gives them a much wider audience," said Mary Knopp, Westlake's library and media specialist. "It really does tie into the common core learning standards, also."

The grant, which is estimated at about $150,000 over three years, will allow Westlake to purchase iPads, video recorders and audio recorders. Knopp said teachers in the English and social studies departments will have the freedom to use the technology in a way that suits their curricula. For the most part though, the equipment will be used by teachers and students to create educational podcasts related to textbook materials and lessons that can be posted online and shared among classmates.

Knopp will act as the facilitator in the program and will select two teachers from the seventh and eighth grades and their respective students to create the lesson plans.

The grant will allow the school district to further a type of learning that has already occurred at Westlake High School. Last year, ninth-grade English teacher Janet Matthews used filmmakers from the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville to record and post videos of her students reading vignettes, which were then shared and critiqued online with students from New Delhi, India. This grant can eliminate the middle man for Westlake teachers and allow them to use their own equipment.

"Westlake's a small community, and this can give students a voice and have their work showcased globally," Knopp said.

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