Michigan Educational Technology Goals Within Reach Using Serif Programs. Serif PagePlus and PhotoPlus Programs Help Students Delve Deeper in Core Subjects
The Clarkston Community Schools in Michigan for years have been facing the challenges, like many districts around the country, of making technology available to all students while dealing with increasingly rigorous state academic standards, tight finances and a team of staff members that often wear many hats between technology deployment and curriculum integration.
The district has some computer teachers and media specialists, but for the most part, it relies on classroom teachers to integrate technology into lessons, said Matt D. McCarty, executive director of Technology Services for Clarkston Community Schools. “It’s very much a team effort,” he explained.
Based on the software’s extensive creative features, ease-of-use and relatively low cost, purchasing Serif products was an easy decision to make
— Matt D. McCarty,
Executive Director of Technology Services
However, since 2007, with the use of PagePlus and PhotoPlus software programs by Serif (http://www.serif.com/Education/), McCarty and his team have been able to more actively engage students in lessons and to better prepare them for future studies, all within their budget and current staffing levels. PagePlus enables students to create unique documents and learn desktop publishing skills, while PhotoPlus offers digital image editing to bring pictures to life in a remarkable variety of ways.
“It’s a challenge with any district to make sure the kids have enough time using all technologies. Serif programs enable our students to become familiar with and master technology while they study core course subjects at the same time. Based on the software’s extensive creative features, ease-of-use and relatively low cost, purchasing Serif products was an easy decision to make,” said McCarty.
One of the first projects to use Serif software involved a sixth-grade class creating a brochure and a mini-passport as part of a social studies lesson. Students were invited to pick one or more countries they wanted to visit as the subject of their projects, and they then created their “travel documents” using PagePlus. Students benefitted from learning multiple lessons including civics (why you need a passport), geography (about the country) and technology (the software), McCarty said.
“We use Serif software to support projects. The programs help the kids learn about technology at the same time they are studying core course subjects,” said McCarty. “The idea behind many projects is that the programs help the students delve a little deeper into the subject of their lessons.”
Other projects have included:
Serif programs support the Clarkston Community Schools as it strives to meet the mandates of the Michigan Educational Technology Standards for Students (http://techplan.edzone.net/METS/METS2009.pdf). The standards provide educators with a specific set of learning expectations that can be used to drive educational technology literacy assessments. For example, by eighth grade students are expected to be able to apply certain technology skills in projects that require creative thinking, communications and collaboration, research and critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making. They must also demonstrate good digital citizenship in knowing the positive and negative ramifications of their technology use and show an understanding of technology operations and concepts and how such technology can benefit their future professional and personal pursuits.
Administrators have also been using PagePlus to create newsletters with building or classroom news, announcement flyers, and room signs to highlight teacher shifts in the high school. Also, PagePlus enables staff to create PDF documents, perfect for posting online, McCarty said.
Previously the district used other, much more expensive software programs for design projects in some courses, but they often crashed, causing students to lose data. A simple Web search led McCarty to Serif, he said.
“In years past, we had not been using well behaved, stable programs, like Serif. We used to have all kinds of problems. Based on the solid features and it affordable price, it was an easy decision to go with Serif,” said McCarty