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Davis Middle hopes video leads to high-tech makeover

School needs to win online vote to secure $20K in equipment

POSTED: August 9, 2010 1:00 a.m.

C.W. Davis Middle School could get $20,000 for a technology makeover, but the students need votes.

Under a Dell "Connect Your Classroom" grant, Davis is competing with 35 other schools across the country to win laptops, projectors and other technology by creating a video stating their need for the grant, then earning votes from visitors to a website.

The Davis video was ranked No. 6 last Friday. To earn the makeover, it must climb to the top position by this Friday.

"It's been encouraging to see everyone rally around the cause, and it would be fantastic to be able to win funding for the school," said Principal Eddie Millwood. "Geoff Chaffin, who came up with the video to enter the contest, is really passionate and has done a lot of technology training sessions at our school."

Chaffin, a special education teacher at Davis, taught sessions at Hall County Schools' Educational Technology Conference at the end of July. Teachers learned how to use programs on their iPhones to take attendance and record grades.

"Technology is my passion. Students aren't going to be taking paper-and-pencil tests on the job," Chaffin said. "I read the other day that we have the Jetsons' kids learning in the Flintstones' schools. Students are into the digital world, but we're not. We need to step it up and catch them."

Chaffin heard about the contest after school let out in May and at first thought the school wouldn't be able to enter because students couldn't get involved. After creating a video on his own computer using online tools, he submitted the three-minute clip.

"Today's school is like an old schoolhouse: It's two-dimensional, where they use paper and they use pencil," he says in the video. "There are 25 students in their seats, lined in rows with one adult. It looks similar to how their grandparents were taught in school, with limited access to a worldwide network of learning."

On Friday, the Davis video had more than 1,000 votes but still lagged behind St. Dorothy School, a private Catholic kindergarten through eighth grade school in California, which had more than 7,000 votes.

Dell education specialists will visit the winning school and find the right combination of technology to best help the students.

"Students now are so different than students 10 years ago, and they're accessing information in different ways," Chaffin said. "They're more into creativity, and it's not just a technology thing. It's more of how we can prepare them 10 years down the road for the workplace because they're going to have jobs that don't exist yet."

That extends to the increasingly global society as well.
"Friends of mine work in India and all sorts of places but don't leave their office," Chaffin said. "That's where society is going."

Chaffin has promoted the video to Gov. Sonny Perdue, state Sen. Butch Miller and radio stations across Atlanta. Despite rivalry among schools in Hall County, Chaffin hopes residents across the county will vote.

"It'll open doors across the county when people see what we're doing," he said. "Teachers will start wondering how they can do the same things at their school."

With a completely wireless campus this year, Chaffin is interested to see how laptops enter the classroom.
"There are going to be some obstacles, but there are going to be so many more positives," he said. "I'm all over the school all the time, and the kids tell me about how excited they are."



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