Progress continues at I.J. Holton school

Published 10:53 am Friday, December 21, 2012

Construction continues to make progress on the new I.J. Holton Intermediate School in southeast Austin. Austin Public Schools is opening a new school in August 2013 that will house all fifth and sixth grade public school students from the Austin area. Sections of the building are now sealed up tight and heated. Classrooms are beginning to appear within as cement floors are laid and walls are erected. I had the opportunity to tour the construction recently and the images I have viewed for months on blueprints are becoming a reality.

In addition to bricks and mortar, we continue to develop the programming and compile lists of furniture and supplies for I.J. Holton. Our new school will have a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) focus. Technology will be one of the cornerstones of all I.J. Holton programming. Multiple technologies will be available to students and teachers — in classrooms, computer labs, flexible teaching and learning areas throughout the school and the media center (library). This will include interactive whiteboards and LCD projectors in classrooms and in small group collaborative areas for student use, document cameras, laptop computers, digital work stations and e-books.

E-books? Is this going to change the way that we view and use our media center? Yes! A functioning 21st-century library is no longer a place dominated by bookshelves and magazine racks. According to Don Knezek, CEO of the International Society for Technology and Education in Washington, D.C, a media center today has to deliver interactive media and instruction in the most effective way. Districts should make sure the library center is supplied with up-to-date interactive multimedia equipment. It should include distance-learning capabilities and offer unencumbered workstation access. Sara Kelly Johns, president of the American Association of School Librarians, expands on Knezek’s point. Since technology develops rapidly and information is being constantly updated, timeliness is a key concern. “Materials can’t be old,” Johns says. Keeping information current and accessible becomes difficult and costly when constantly replacing and updating hard copy books and reference materials. Digital access to information is timely, cost efficient and resourceful.

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As digital technology and literacy becomes the norm in our society, and is integrated into I.J. Holton Intermediate School, the tech integration specialist has become an essential part of a school’s faculty. These are the people who will integrate the digital world into today’s classroom and throughout the curriculum. Specially trained and knowledgeable in the use of information technology, tech integration specialists have become one of the most important instructional partners, working with teachers and administrators to change what is possible in the classroom. I.J. Holton school will have a tech integration specialist on staff as we begin the school year in August 2013 to support staff and students in the technology-rich environment in which they will be working and learning. Our goal is to empower students to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic consumers of technology, skillful researchers and ethical users of information.