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Trek for Tech Raised Funds for New Computers in 2016

Getting today's' tech-savvy kids to turn off their screens and put on running shoes can be a challenge, but turning that notion on its head is Trek for Tech, a fundraiser that encourages students to lace up for technology.

And the efforts from last year's fun run have already paid off for the entire Woodlake community. 

The upgraded computer lab, which opened late November 2016, features 36 new MAC computers, monitors, keyboards, headset adaptors and Woodlake custom mouse pads. Students will be able to flex their academic skills on familiar programs like Razkids, IXL, and Newzella, which is used for researching purposes.

“On behalf of the PTSA, we are excited for the children. They have some of the newest technology at their fingertips,” said Justina States, PTSA president. “Thank you to the teachers, parents, students for their tremendous support and donations.”

Woodlake is leasing the computers from Apple Education for three years, with the first year's cost of about $18,600 paid for by Trek for Tech funds. An additional nearly $7,000 of funds raised will go towards next year's lease, said Diane Ross, assistant administrator.

“We need to raise more funds for next year's balance,” Ross said, adding that after the third year of the lease is paid, the school will be able to purchase the equipment for $1.

Navigating students through the new technology is Computerwisekids, a technology teaching company that came on board at the start of 2016. They provide specialized instruction by grade level utilizing proprietary curriculum and the integration of multi-media technology into with California standards curriculum, according to their website.

The program will also teach typing skills, how to create power point presentations and the use of word perfect documents, States said.

“Previously we were teaching computer lab through an LAUSD support teacher,” said Suzi Luetscher, a parent and volunteer. “Now Computerwise kids will focus the curriculum, with Mr. Thompson's approval and guidance of course, and computer instruction throughout all classes that visit the computer lab weekly.”

Computerwisekids instructors will be in the lab Tuesdays, Wednesday and Fridays for six hours a day to teach students, maintain updated software and handle any technical issues. Additionally a new teaching assistant is coming in soon to assist grades 4 and 5 with their Chromebooks, said Ross, replacing tech aide, Mr. Alex, whose last day at Woodlake was January 20, 2016.

“I like it because the screens are really big and you can adjust them,” said Jackson Allen, a third Grader in Mrs. Ginsburg's class. His class can take reading tests when they go there too, he said.

One of the benefits of the brand new lab is the ability to develop a positive reinforcement system that rewards classroom progress with extra time in the computer lab, said Kelle Husk, Resource Specialist at Woodlake.

And while the focus is enhancing general instruction on the entire campus, new technology may provide opportunities for special education. Husk said she plans to research software tailored to nurture the needs of those students.

“Special education students often respond well to the tactile, visual, and auditory aspects of using computers,” Husk said. “To that end, we anticipate utilizing the new computer lab to challenge our special education students to achieve higher levels of success in their academics.”

The last upgrade happened five years ago, when new PCs were installed, although the keyboards and monitors remained the same. After the recent switch to MACs, the old equipment was offered to teachers to use in their classrooms, and whatever was left over was salvaged, Ross said.

As for the future of the computer lab, Ross said it may someday double as a science lab. Currently, science equipment is housed in different classrooms around campus. She hopes to consolidate the equipment into one place, similar to art in Room 27.

The computer lab is also currently used for math tutoring after school. 

The next Trek for Tech will take place April, 7th at 8:45 a.m.