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DirecTV comes to campuses for expanded learning

In keeping with emerging technology, Varnett's three campuses have been hooked up to DirecTV to help expand the learning of students.

Three, 46-inch TVs are stationed in the campuses' multi-purpose rooms and students already have demonstrated that they are benefiting from the programming.

“The teachers are using them as a tool to quiz the children on what they saw once they get back into the classroom,” said Dora Morrow, director of the Northeast Campus.

The use of strategic programming is part of Varnett’s initiative to utilize 21th century tools to educate its more than 1,500 students. Also this year, the district installed an all-encompassing, multi-media tool called the Promethian ActiveClassroom, which is designed to replace the antiquated chalk boards and overhead projectors.

The DirecTV offerings include Animal Planet, Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery Kids, Food Network, National Geographic Channel, Nickelodeon and others. The students watch the programming during their breakfast and lunch hours.

Many school districts are taking advantage of The School Choice® programming package, which offers a high concentration of non-violent educational content that includes local channels.

The Northeast Campus was the first to get DirecTV. The Southwest campus has three in the multipurpose room and two others for pre-kindergartners.
Deb Holloway, pre-kindergarten teacher at the Northeast Campus, touted the benefits of this new offering. “It’s quieter in the lunchroom and the students are learning on top of it,” Ms. Holloway said.

Northeast Campus first-grade teacher Paula Reynolds tells her students that they will be asked questions after viewing certain programs and will get extra credit for coming up with the right answers. “I’m watching who’s focused on the TVs and who’s not,” Ms. Reynolds said. “I can tell by the look on their faces and the body language that they know the answers.”

Ms. Morrow said the younger students learn recognition of the alphabet, numbers and story-telling. “Then they come back and tell the story to the teacher,” she said.

Twilet Alexander, director of the East Campus, said her students were “very enthralled” by the installation of the new technology at the school. “The look on their face was priceless, especially for our pre-K students,” Ms. Alexander said. “I remember when I first turned the TV on I heard a student squeal with delight. It was a pre-K 3 student. I don't know what it is but it has brought a sense of calm during lunch and breakfast because at first it is a fascination with the TV.”

Barbara Ray, assistant director of the Southwest Campus, said the programming for her students provides an opportunity for them to engage in productive dialogue.
Ms. Ray said the students already have improved on their listening skills.
“The greatest benefit is that it allows our students to engage in a fun activity without realizing that learning is still taking place.”

Alsie Cluff III, assistant facilities and operations manager who oversaw the installations of the TVs, summed up the main purpose of the initiative.
"The idea is to keep the kids up with current events and newscasts," Mr. Cluff said. "The teachers will be with them as part of the curriculum."

DirecTV provides the service free of charge.

Click here to see this story at chron.com

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