Fourth grade class strives to raise $18,000 for student netbooks
While some schools are complaining about the lack of funds to cover new technology for the classrooms, one fourth grade class at Indian Trail Elementary is taking the initiative to solve the problem. Gina Chisum’s class of 25 students is working to raise $18,000 to purchase 25 student netbooks for the entire class.
When Chisum assigned a research project earlier this year, the students were required to use PowerPoint. However, the school has a set of only 32 netbooks that must be shared between 35 classes.
Reserving the netbooks was difficult. Because the students had no flash drives to save their work, the documents had to be stored on the netbooks’ hard drives, where they were vulnerable to unwanted editing or deletion from other classes who used the netbooks.
Despite these obstacles, the students worked diligently and excelled at the project. Not only were they successful, but they enjoyed the work as well, Chisum said. “By the end of the project, they were asking me for more (work),” Chisum said. “That’s what’s cool. If they’re asking for it, they’ll use it.”
For Indian Trail principal Candice Boatright, incorporating technology into the classrooms is an important goal she has worked to achieve since she came to the school nearly two years ago.
“I started at ITES in August 2010,” Boatright said. “I immediately realized that, to set the teachers and students up for success, we needed to increase our 21st century technology.”
Chisum and her students also recognized a need for technology in the classroom, but felt overwhelmed when they first discovered how much it would cost to purchase the netbooks. Each netbook costs exactly $618.15. But the desire for technology-based learning fueled a fire of determination, and the class decided to take measures into its own hands.
“I thought, ‘I can take initiative and solve the problem, or I can continue to fuss about it,’” Chisum said.
Following a trip to Raleigh and a unit on government, Chisum and her students were inspired to apply what they learned about government and turned to the Indian Trail Town Council for assistance.
Last week, several students addressed the council with persuasive essays, outlining the need for netbooks in their class. The address broke down the cost of the netbooks, as well as the cost of flash drives and headphones, which are necessary accessories the class intends to purchase as well.
Two days later, Mayor Michael Alvarez visited Chisum’s class and spoke to the students. Alvarez counseled the students, giving them realistic ideas and suggestions on what they could do to raise the money.
Currently, the students are planning various fundraisers. The class hopes to host a dunking booth at the Hop To IT! Easter Egg Hunt on March 31 at Crossing Paths Park. Some of the students plan to sell lemonade to raise money for the netbooks.
Boatright is proud of all Chisum’s class has accomplished this year, which includes raising thousands of dollars for two fundraisers, one of which benefited Turning Point.
“(Mrs. Chisum) raised so much money for both of the fundraisers, that her class was rewarded with five laptops to keep in the classroom,” Boatright said. “The students have been utilizing them since they arrived in their room.”
Chisum firmly believes the project is entirely about benefiting the students and allowing them to shine. “Technology is cross-curricular,” Chisum said. “Students are able to take their knowledge and apply it and make something of it.”
The students hope to have the money raised by the end of the school year, not just so they can use the netbooks, but so the rising fourth graders can utilize them at the start of the 2012-2013 school year.
Chisum hopes this initiative will challenge other teachers and students to take some initiative, get out of their comfort zone, encourage each other and find doable ways to raise money for technology in the classroom. “We need to help build skills that these students can take all the way to college and their career,” she said.
Want to help?
Donations can be made by check to Indian Trail Elementary School, memo “Chisum’s Technology.” Call 704-821-7614 for more information.