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STAFF PHOTOS BY SUSAN USHES
ENGLISH instructor Rita Lewis answers a question from Julia Fort about her writing project. From the left are sophomores Amanda
Reeves, Fort, Alan Cheers, Heather Hilton and Amanda Wilson.
Lab Offers Computer Training, Support
For West Brunswick Students And Faculty
BY SUSAN USHER
Anyone looking in Rita Lewis s
classroom at West Brunswick High
School during second period last
Thursday morning wouldn't have
found Lewis or her students.
They were in the school computer
lab. seated before rows of IBM per
sonal computers, typing final drafts
of a descriptive paragraph.
Fifteen minutes into class, some
of Lewis' 10th grade students had
little more than a title on their
screen. Others' fingers were speed
ing across the keys confidently, de
scribing a "dream" prom dress, a fa
vorite "blankie" from childhood or
the beauties of Costa Rica.
"It's just their third time in the
lab," said Rahn Adams. West
Brunswick's computer specialist.
"Some of the students, like Julia
Fort, are computer whizzes, while
others haven't used a computer be
fore. And some have trouble typ
Like Adams, Lewis spent part of
the period on her own work at a
computer station; the rest of the time
she moved through the lab. respond
ing to students' questions.
Most of the students aren't fast
enough or confident enough yet to
compose at the keyboard, at least
during the confines of a single class
period. But most will finish typing
their short papers before the class is
over, and several will have time to
help their less experienced class
"Some of them know more than 1
do," said Lewis. "Others come in
Chrissy Parsons is typical. She
took typing last year and used com
puters some; the experience has
helped this year, she said.
"I like using the computer. Word
processing is so much easier than
just writing. You can correct your
mistakes and it's got a spell-check
David Arrowood has been using
computers to teach advanced math
for Five or six years, but this year is
"I've got two computers in my
own classroom," he said, "but this is
the first year I've been able to bring
an entire class into the computer lab
Using a program called Data
Editor, Arrowood's class was plot
ting and analyzing raw data, in this
case records for the one-mile run
from 1880 through 1985. Based on
their results, students were to predict
the records for the years 1986-92,
research the actual times and check
their predictions against them, and
then predict a record time for the
? # #
lewis's and Arrowood's classes
are good illustrations of a statewide
plan to integrate use of technology,
considered an essential skill for the
21st century, across the high school
curriculum. Word processing, for
example, is a required part of the
10th grade and 12th English curricu
Brunswick County had lagged be
hind in moving computer technolo
gy into the classroom until recently,
with no coordinated effort, little
equipment and much of it not work
ing or incompatible with other com
puters, and little or no staff support
or training. That's all changed, with
the establishment of a system-wide
technology plan being implemented
under Gene Zuck, hired last year as
A $1 million allocation from
Brunswick County made it possible
to hire personnel, including a com
puter specialist for each school and
one regional technical support per
son for each of the three attendance
zones, and to install additional
equipment and software in each of
(he county's 1 2 schools.
The role of Adams and his coun
terparts at other schools is to serve
as a resource for teachers and then
students; he wears the hats of in
structor. consultant and trou
He s found that generally students
are finding it easier to adjust to the
new technology than adults He's
been very pleased with their good
treatment of the lab equipment.
Most kids have grown up with
computers, whether in a game or a
word processor, but most adults in
cluding myself, did not," said
Adams. "It makes a difference."
To make the adjustment easier,
Adams has printed step-bv-step
guides that teachers can follow on
repeat visits to the lab. Marker
boards hung across one side of the
class list some basic keyboard com
mands, while cartoons on the oppo
site wall offer humorous relief from
"If they know anything at all
about what they're doing, they can
get through it," he said.
Adams doesn't leave it to teachers
to introduce their students to the lab
though. The first time students come
in he goes through a series of basic
instructions step by step.
"I don't try to teach them every
thing there is to know about word
processing right at first and I don't
have them work through tutorials,"
said Adams. "I teach them to do just
enough that they can do a paper.
I hen each time they come in we add
a little something."
From his own personal experi
ence, he remembers information
I don t want to overwhelm
them, he said, instead building in
opportunities for success from the
first lesson. "They are typing a pa
per before they leave the first class."
Along with basic computer vo
cabulary and commands, the stu
dents are learning the advantages
and limitations of using the comput
er s built-in dictionary spell-checker
and thesaurus, and how to print
copies of their work.
Adams also helps train teachers in
use of available software and then
acts as a resource as they learn to
use the software and teach students
in the lab.
The object is for teachers to
come in and run the class," he said.
One of Adams top priorities this
year was making sure all sophomore
and senior English classes received
their required instruction in word
processing, then introducing other
English classes to the lab.
That took most of the first nine
weeks, he said. "Now we're getting
to the math classes and other depart
As more classes receive orienta
tion. the lab will eventually he
booked full. Right now faculty
members in several departments are
reviewing and recommending soft
ware purchases for their classes.
When possible, programs will he
placed on the network so they can
However, ail of the computers in
use at West Brunswick aren't in the
lab or on the network; a handful are
scattered throughout various depart
ments and the media center. Their
users need support as well.
"I can't walk down the hall with
out two or three people coming up
to me with a question or needing
help with something on their con.
puier," said Adams. "I don't have
the formal training people who stud
ied computers in college have, but I
can usually get something done."
Along with teacher certification
in secondary English, what Adams
brings to the job is practical experi
ence ? approximately nine years'
use of various computer systems as
a newswriter for print and broadcast
media, and three years as a technical
writer with MD Associates, where
he wrote the documentation for
three or four software applications
used in medical offices.
At her work station, Amanda
Wilson was waiting. She had tried to
store her descriptive paragraph on a
disk that had not been formatted, or
prepared to receive data. She
couldn't remember how to format
the disk and didn't want to chance
losing the work on the monitor
"He told me not to touch any
thing, and I'm listening to him," she
said as she waited for Adams to
come to her rescue.
Generally all computers and
printers within the school lab, if not
those elsewhere in each county
school, are connected to a single file
server, creating a local area network,
The network allows users to share
access to programs stored in a single
location and to share information
with other network users. Students
have access to some programs,
teachers to more, administrators to
still others. Passwords and access
codes help maintain confidentiality.
From a work station, Lewis can
interact with student users, monitor
ing work in progress and offering
written suggestions or questions of
her own. She can look at completed
assignments or prepare work of her
own, including grade reports.
Starting this fall all faculty mem
bers at West Brunswick High are
maintaining their grades on comput
er using a program called InteGrade.
Given proper direction, InteGrade
will assign various weights to indi
vidual grades (a mid-term exam
might count 20 percent of a final
grade, for instance), average grades
and even plot a graph that compares
a student's performance with that of
classmates. Teachers can also pre
pare a narrative describing a stu
dent's progress. The program shares
information with the school's
Student Information Management
Parents and students got their first
look at the reporting system when
teachers issued mid-term reports for
the first nine-week grading period.
Final grades were also reported us
ing the system.
"You have to be a lot more disci
plined in using InteGrade," said
Adams."You can't wait until the last
minute to enter all your grades.
Then it is a lot more work."
Only a few teachers here are ad
vanced far enough to use all the fea
tures available. When they finally
learn how to use it fully it will really
Peer trainers in each department
are gradually introducing fellow
teachers to additional programs that
help them track student progress in
achieving specific curriculum goals
and help them design suitable tests
and study materials.
Individuals and groups within the
school are making additional use of
'he computer resources, and a tech
nology committee is l<x>king ahead
to plan more ways to integrate tech
nology into the classroom.
As chairman of the school/com
munity relations committee Lewis
plans to use a program called
Linkways to publish a newsletter.
One of Lewis's students, Ashley
Ware, is among the student journal
ists who spend extra time in the
computer lab writing and editing
West Wind, the school newspaper
supervised by English teacher Hilda
They can do everything on the
computer now except paste-up "
Adams has begun a computer
club that allows interested students
to "log on" to computers before and
after school and learn to use pro
grams not available to other stu
Starting soon. Extended Day stu
dents?students who take evening
and night classes? will also begin
learning word processing skills un
der the tutelage of Jay Priester.
As Technology Director Gene
f reported to school board mem
bers at a recent meeting, 'We re just
beginning to make use of technolo
gy in the schools. There's an incred
ible array of things we can do and
will be doing."
The Calabash Volunteer Emer
gency Medical Services urgently
needs new members to ma,ntain its
-4-hour ambulance service, says
President Kathy Morfit.
"The volume of calls for assis
tance is steadily increasing with the
population growth," she added.
A Basic EMT course is scheduled
?o begin Jan. 3. 1994, at the squad
building on N.C. 179, Calabash.
Classes will meet two nights a week
through March, with testing j?
April. The classes are sponsored by
Brunswick Community College.
Anyone 18 or older with a valid
driver s license, and who lives in the
area served by Calabash Volunteer
LMS, is eligible to become a squad
_.??r "lorc information, call 579
7490 or 579-4093.
STUDENTS on just (heir third visit to the computer lab ask spec -
ialist Rahn Adams to refresh their memory on a series of com
Timothy P. Gibble, M.D.
Board Certified Internist
Susan Gibble, PA-C
New Patients Welcome
The Brunswick Hospital
Among the many
blessings we count
at Thanksgiving are
our loyal readers.
We wish you all a
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