Cedar Catholic gets new student laptops

HARTINGTON — Along with two new teachers, Cedar Catholic High School students should expect some noticeable changes to their day-to-day education starting this fall.
Cedar Catholic principal Terry Kathol said the school will be adding a number of technology devices to help expand teachers’ ability to teach concepts to their students.
He said the Cedar Catholic development office provided funding for 80 mini laptops for use in the high school, while a $70,000 grant from the Archdiocese of Omaha will provide every student in grades three through six with a Chromebook.
Kathol said the laptops will allow teachers greater flexibility to use Google School, which provides a number of applications to help digitally streamline classwork between students and teachers.
All students will have easy access to Google Drive, which will make collaborating on class projects such as slideshows and essays easier. Kathol said one teacher, Sara Steffen, has begun grading all of her quizzes and essays through Google School.
“We think this will only continue to develop well,” Kathol said.
Kathol said the school isn’t adopting a one-to-one technology program like Hartington-Newcastle Public Schools, especially with the elementary school Chromebooks. He said those students will only be able to use their technology during the school day and won’t be able to take their devices home.
Kindergarten through second grade students will also see the use of iPads in their lessons. He said the kids are most-likely already used to the touchscreen technology and will make learning concepts familiar and fun.
He said the devices will be used to help teach handwriting, and the instant feedback will help quicken the learning process. He said one program in particular will help them focus one letter at a time and work with the student until they’ve mastered the concept.
“They’re not just playing games,” Kathol said.
Along with technology upgrades, Cedar Catholic will be adopting new science curriculum standards set by the Archdiocese of Omaha. Kathol said the only noticeable difference between the new standards over previous years will be the hands-on learning approach.
“These science standards have a more project-based element,” Kathol said.
Kathol used electricity as an example. He said rather than reading about electricity as a concept, students will be building circuits and observing electricity firsthand. He said this allows students to fully grasp all aspects of a concept.
“You sit in a classroom and you can be taught something. You have an understanding of the material, but you don’t necessarily understand the concept,” Kathol said.
He said the new science teacher, Lily Lam, will begin adopting these new standards into her curriculum this summer and is confident in her ability to introduce them to her students.