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|West Ridge students win national contest|
West Ridge Middle School has a new interactive classroom projection system thanks to its yearbook class' efforts in a national contest sponsored by 3M Projectors.
West Ridge was one of 10 schools in the nation to win one of 3M's interactive "Super Close Projection Systems."
Hundreds of classes from schools throughout the United States submitted video skits informing 3M why their school should receive a new interactive projector. The contest was called "From Tired to Inspired." Students were asked to make video skits showing how the technology would help their class overcome growing bored or tired of everyday learning from a textbook to inspired excitement of learning from interactive technology.
West Ridge chose to parody the Extreme Makeover-Home Edition television show. The parody depicted a student as the TV show's host, Ty Pennington, arriving at the school to conduct a makeover, delivering the new technology to the school. Pennington was played by 7th-grader Cole Brandon.
Before Pennington's arrival, the yearbook staff, comprised of 14-year-old girls, sat listening to their teacher, played by 8th-grader Madeleine Wassan. Some students played with their cell phones, listened to their Ipods or dozed off as their teacher attempted to get their attention to explain how the tilt of the Earth affects the seasons.
When Pennington arrived, the yearbook staff excitedly swarmed him with hugs, all the while shrieking with joy. He sent them on a special field trip and when they returned, their classroom was decked out with 3M equipment.
Yearbook and math teacher Jamie Burgess said she was amazed her students put together the video in such a short period of time. They wrote and directed the skit, starred in the parody and edited the video.
"I was just blown away," Burgess said. "I would never have been able to do this as a kid, but they just picked this stuff up."
"I didn't know how to do hardly any of this, but they took it on themselves and did it," she said. "They've taught me a lot. I was blown away by their talents and creativity. They think outside the box and this new generation has to have teachers who think outside the box."
"They had to push back the deadline (for the contest) because only one video was turned in," Burgess explained. "So, I showed this to the kids one day and they said, 'We can do better than that.' And, literally in three days, they had it done and we turned it in along with hundreds of other schools. They did it all themselves."
"After they filmed it, I went to lunch and about four stayed here and edited the whole thing by themselves," Burgess added.
The students are now interested in video broadcasting and plan to film announcements and activities at the school to broadcast to other students.
"There's a young lady who's absent today (Mary Allison Mitchell), and I call her Katie Couric because she loves all this (journalism) and just thinks outside the box," Burgess continued. "They all do, but her older sister was into this and that's motivated her because she saw her big sister do all this in high school."
Regarding the projector the class won from the contest, Burgess said it would help a number of students by providing a more interactive method of teaching.
"This is an awesome teaching tool," she said. "It's a projector, and it makes my regular chalk board into a smart board. We use it in the math program which is strictly on the Internet, so I use this as a tool to work on my board. It just makes your regular old chalkboard an interactive tool. You can change a chalkboard or a cement wall into a smart board now."
Burgess also can pull up any video or web site to give students interactive demonstrations about a variety of subjects.
So instead of teachers standing in front of the classroom talking about the Earth's tilt or drawing diagrams on the chalkboard, they can pull up an actual video of the Earth's rotation.
"You can stand up there and talk about it, but now, looking at a video on the Internet or showing pictures is so much better," Burgess said. "Kids get bored with just opening a book from 1985. Now we can go to sources that are available to us from right now. It's helped me out tremendously. I use it almost every day. It's just an awesome teaching tool."