Keeping FCS Relevant with Technology

Article excerpt

Acorn School

MENA * AR

Acorn School campus is located in the shadow of Rich Mountain, near Mena, AR. In fall 2006, the school enrollment (K-12) was 476 students, with 76% eligible for free or reduced-cost meals. Our one-teacher FCS Department offers two programs of study: Family and Consumer Sciences Education and Food Production Management and Services. Class enrollment is open to all students, 8th through 12th grades.

Support from the Acorn school board, administration, and community is strong and has enhanced the FCS program greatly. Local funding has been generous over the years, with careful allocation of state and federal funds through the DeQueen-Mena Educational Cooperative. The activities of the Acorn FCCLA, rising membership costs, and rising costs of leadership training exceed that generosity however, requiring us to engage in numerous fundraising efforts.

The primary focus of the Acorn FCS program is to keep student interest high and demands on teacher preparation manageable through the use of available technologies. Our technology acquisition has evolved from 1992 when a grant was written to obtain a Macintosh computer for classroom management, to the fall of 2006, with the addition of a General Electric Profile electronic washer and dryer. Other acquisitions have included computerized sewing machines, sergers, and embroidery machines; video disk player, DVD player, and PC with CD-ROM; Sony digital camera; digital scales; a digital body mass calibrator; and eInstruction©, a computerized student performance assessment tool.

Students are enthusiastic about using all of this technology as evidenced by their PowerPoint© reports and by their winning projects submitted in Applied Technology events.

I always challenge myself and my students to utilize the most current technology. I first experimented with the student development of PowerPoint© presentations in the classB room during the spring of 2002, and W have since prepared a presentation entitled "PowerPoint© for Dummies" to share at a professional conference and to help students.

Using a digital camera, I captured photos of my family and environment in a model presentation tided "About Me." The presentations were shown to all classes and students were asked to prepare their own "About Me" presentations. Using two digital cameras and a scanner to import digital images, video clips, and traditional photographs into their presentations, students taught one another to import clip art from software and internet sites. They learned to respect copyright laws, how to avoid plagiarism and piracy, and how to save their work to the network so it could be accessed and edited from any computer in the building. Students' presentations were given either on my large screen TV or on a Smart Board©.

Perhaps the most imaginative funding initiative was the 2002 collaborative grant writing efforts among Acorn's three workforce education teachers to obtain a Smart Board©, laptop computer, projector, and portable screen to share among the three departments.

Each year, the food production class conducts a Valentine mega pan cookie decorating project with proceeds funding FCCLA trips and projects. Each year I apply for a matching grant for this project from the local Wal-Mart. Posters advertising the project, examples of cookie designs, and spread sheets to keep track of orders are part of the project.

Acorn core class instructors have been enthusiastic about the evolution of technology in our FCS program because many of the skills learned and utilized reinforce core skills. For example, the measurement skills necessary for the operation of the computerized embroidery machine reinforce math skills. …