LINCOLN - More than 30 people packed the Alcona Community Schools Board of Education meeting Monday night to recognize strides made by fifth-graders, who have been armed with Chrome Books. They also saluted FFA students, who won leadership awards at the regional and state level.
The hour-long presentation began when 10-year-old Anna Loyer and her fellow students sat down in the chairs occupied by board members to demonstrate one-on-one how small portable Chrome Books worked. The tiny computers were paid for by a grant from the school's PTO and allow for online access that links students and teachers to information, teacher Sue Elmer said.
Special Google programs allow Elmer and other teachers to work on lesson plans together via the Internet. Then the material can be presented to students in the classroom by computer, and the youngsters are taught how to do online research and create Powerpoint presentations, she said.
As they write, some of their words become highlighted, and if they click on those areas, the students can find the latest research on the subject they are attempting to learn about, Elmer said. The program also creates a bibliography, allows them to insert images into their documents, and tracks changes and improvements in their work.
"From a student's perspective, it's a huge advantage to the writing process," Elmer said. "They don't have to read 10 pages to get the information; they just go to the highlighted spot."
Google has plenty of other apps for educators, Elmer said.
"We can use Google forms for assessing students, getting instant feedback so we can adjust our instruction as needed," she said.
In a related subject, county resident Marlena Mac Neill said she is a part of the Alcona County Leadership Committee and her group is holding an event at 6 p.m. April 29, where representatives from Charter, Frontier, Verizon and Michigan Connect will be on hand to talk about the challenges of providing high-speed Internet connections county wide. The event is being held at the school, and Mac Neill said Internet development is crucial to the area's development.
"People aren't buying houses where there isn't high-speed Internet connections," she said. "Yet, there are high-speed interconnect businesses in some parts of the county that are being successful."
Agricultural interests also want broadband connection, although most of them live in low population areas, because of the size of their fields and cattle grazing operations, she said.
"It will be an uphill battle, but we are comparing it to electricity," Mac Neill said. "We didn't really need it when it came, and now we can't live without it. Same for the telephone and same for computers."
Members of the school's FFA demonstrated their skills as they were lauded for their wins during regional and state finals. One group showed how they competed in a leadership category, running a planning meeting with precision, under the rules of parliamentary procedure.
Another student, Jeremy Lickey, performed a speech he prepared on school bullying, receiving a standing ovation after he spoke about being teased as a youngster. He placed eighth in the state.
In other business:
* the FFA sugar shack will be open and serving a pancake and maple syrup breakfast starting at 9 a.m. March 22.
* the board approved payment of $524,711 in bills.
* supported an Up North Prevention proclamation for Social Host Awareness Month, remind everyone that minors should not consume drugs or alcohol during parties at the homes of parents.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.