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Yahara Elementary School enters the computer age

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Stacy Vogel
June 1, 2008
— Chris Kranz’s class on Wednesday vaguely resembled a Starbucks, minus the coffee.

The third- and fourth-graders clustered around round tables, clacking away on laptop computers. They were typing original poems to create their own poetry books.


Until this semester, the students at Yahara Elementary School didn’t have many opportunities to type poems, or play computer math games, or research mathematics online.


Edgerton’s rural school, 10 miles southwest of the city, used to have only nine computers in the library, not nearly enough for an entire class. The school bused classes to Community Elementary School in Edgerton for typing classes and online reading tests and sent students in groups to use the nine computers in the library.


Now, the school has 20 laptops. Teachers push the computers from class to class on a large rolling cabinet and plug in the entire cabinet overnight to charge them.


The laptops will help students, especially those who don’t have computers at home, learn valuable skills, Kranz said.


“These kids are going to be just that much more advanced,” she said. “Our business world today, everything is built around computers.”


The kids like the new computers, too.


Before, “we would have to take turns on those little computers,” Faith Everson, 10, said as she typed a poem about the recess bell ringing.


That’s not to say there aren’t problems.


“I’ve been trying to log in for 20 minutes,” Hannah Bratland, 9, complained. “Every time I log in, it freezes up.”


The computers are connected to a virtual server at Community Elementary School. Students log on to laptops at Yahara, but all the software and formatting is stored in the server at Community, said Dan Johnson, district network manager.


“It’s allowing (students) from Yahara to remote-control, if you want to think of it this way, a computer back here on this side of the connection,” he said.


If the students don’t log out properly, they sometimes can’t log back on, Kranz said.


“We do a lot of troubleshooting,” she said.


Still, Yahara teachers said they and the students are learning more about the computers every day. Johnson said the virtual connection has worked out better than he hoped.


“It’s met my expectations and maybe even more, now that we’ve got the bugs out,” he said.


The district spent $14,500 on the hardware and $10,000 on the software and virtual connection, Johnson said. But the district actually is saving money because it will no longer have to bus Yahara students into Edgerton for computer work, said Shari Badertscher, Yahara principal.


“Most importantly, it’ll save instructional time,” she said.



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