Tech boot camp readies Evanston/Skokie School District 65 teachers for year
District 65 technology head Patty Tzortzis dishes out some tips to teachers on some of the new features in the computers they are going to be using. The district had to add sessions to accomodate the teachers enrolling in the training course. (Bob Seidenberg\Staff Writer)
Updated: August 23, 2012 12:04PM
EVANSTON — No squirming in seats, eyes on the clock.
Students in this class are hunkered down in front of laptop computers, their attention turned to instructor Fred Ortiz as he helps them unlock the mysteries of their new Mac computers.
Instead of surf and swim, it’s “swype” and “synch” for this group of educators taking time out from their summer to take part in Evanston/Skokie School District 65’s new computer boot camp for teachers held on the second floor of the district administration building.
Ortiz and fellow instructor Jennifer Munoz-Cabrera good-naturedly lead the group on a tour of the new system, debuting just in time for students’ Sept. 4 return to the classroom.
“If you’re not backing up, if your not synching properly, we can’t help you.”
“Anybody know about downloads? Where do they come from?”
“Does everyone know how to make your computer go to sleep?”
Class members follow Ortiz as he helps them find answers to those on the overhead white-board computer screen projected overhead.
District 65 instituted the training program this year in line with the new Mac books and operating system teachers will be working with in the classroom in the coming year, said Pat Markham, the district’s director of communications.
The district offered the classes to help teachers get a jump on operating their new computers.
Response has been terrific, she said. Some 450 teachers have taken part in the summer sessions, prompting the district to add extra classes.
“We’re really excited so many teachers took up our offer,” Markham said.
Patty Tzortzis, the district’s coordinator of instructional technology and a former teacher herself, noted that the new-model computer teachers were issued has some 250 new features as part of its operating system.
“And so we thought, ‘Why just (give) a new laptop to a teacher and not provide them with training?’ ” Tzortzis said. “That didn’t make sense to us, because we found that the more familiar they are with their laptop and device, the more comfortable they are using it.”
She said transitioning from their old computers went remarkably smooth.
“Teachers brought in their old laptop, they synched it to the network one last time and they did an exchange,” Tzortzis said. “It went seamless.”
Anyone who thinks computers for teachers is a frill — think again. “Technology is important to teachers,’’ Tzortzis said. “It’s like their filing cabinet, their Rolodex — everything in one place.”
Teachers use their computers to take work home, keep up on e-mail.
“It promotes collaboration,” Tzortzis said. “You can connect with students before hours, after hours. It would be very difficult for a teacher to perform their daily duties without a laptop or computer.”
Computers are also key in presentations.
The computer hooks up to an interactive white board so when teachers hook up to the board, “they need to be masters of their content,” Tzortzis explained, “because they’re in front of kids, manipulating and moving the board.”
“And kids wait for no one,” added Karen Reid, a Kingsley teacher and one of the graduates of the class.
Susan Struve, a Walker School teacher, was another teacher taking the class. “Definitely honing my skills, giving me an added edge,’’ she said.
Class is back in session, and Ortiz is moving to other features of the new system.
“Okay, any questions on the Finder?” Ortiz is asking.
He stymies the class a little while later with a question but one of the alert educators suggests the ultimate solution.
“Call Tech!” she says.