In-classroom technology use, foreign-language instruction and the possibility of offering specialty programs in elementary schools were the focus Tuesday night of the second of this year's Summit 303 forums.
The St. Charles school district forum on elementary education started with district administrators discussing how technology is being used in classrooms.
"We know kids in elementary schools can use these (devices) very easily," said Jenni Iwanski, instructional support coach, of computers and smartphones. "The focus is on how to use them to be better learners."
For example, a Richmond Intermediate teacher videotapes his spelling lesson; students can then watch it on a website, while he walks around the classroom giving aid to individual students as needed.
Richmond was in the spotlight again, as curriculum director Rosa Ascharya discussed how its foreign-language enrichment program is going. It is the first year for the program.
And Superintendent Donald Schlomann said that with enrollment declining at the elementary level, there may be room to offer specialty programs, alongside standard programs, at more of the elementary schools in the next few years.
About 230 people broke into small groups to discuss what concerned them most about the elementary-school experience, what classroom tools and experiences they expect elementary students to have related to the use of technology in their instruction, and the possibility of offering school-choice options to elementary students.
Table after table reported they wanted foreign-language instruction offered to students at all 12 elementary schools. And some wanted the same access to technology for all elementary students. At Richmond, students were issued tablet computers this year.
The administrators touched briefly on the expected enrollment decline, which is in a report given to the participants and available on the District 303 website.
The district has 5,600 elementary students; by the 2015-2016 school year, it is expected to decline to somewhere between 3,824 to 5,355 students, according to the demographer the district hired.
The next forum, at 7 p.m. March 20, will focus on middle schools.
Learners: March 20 forum focuses on middle schools