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Oct. 2, 1995

Barstow using Internet to try new methods

Staff Writer
Barstow Elementary has been linked by computer to the University of Texas Permian Basin in Odessa, as part of a project of the umversity's Center for Professional Development and Technology.

Barstow is the only campus in the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School District participaling in the UTPB program. Through the use of its multi-media set-up, and state funds awarded to the Ward County campus by the Texas Education Agency, the school is now ready to implement programs far from the traditional classroom setting.

Barstow Elementary Principal Robert Hernandez said that he
and UTPB representatives have been working on the grant for about two years. He added that the deciding vote to award the grant to Barstow came after a presentation by teacher Marina Underwood on behalf of the campus to a TEA committee.

Hernandez said Barstow was "very instrumental," with what TEA had in mind for the grant because of its remoteness and its coDperative learning techniques used to teach mixed grades in one classroom setting. Barstow is the smallest elementary school in the P-B-T district, and the only one still servng children in grades 1-6.

"The purpose of the grant is to get new teachers with new ideas and combine technology with a classroom setting," he said.

In cooperating with UTPB, said Hernandez, Barstow can allow student teachers to use what their professors have taught them and utilize their knowledge at the campus.

As for books, writing equipment and desks, "those days are over," said Hernandez. "We're trying to get away from the traditional classroom setting and move to more innovative technique" said.

With use of an interactive system, "we can communicate with UTPB," Hernandez "We can hear and see them, they can hear and see us. It's just like being in a classroom."

The movie camera, attached to a television set, is used every Tuesday night for a UTPB instruction session on Cooperative Learning. Currently all Barstow Elementary staff members are attending the courses, and it is being offered to anyone working on their teaching cenif~cate, Hernandez said.

"We also want to see what other district teachers would like to have (classes)," he added, saying they are all invited to sign up for the class and voice any suggestions they may have for future classes.

Hernandez said there is an open invitation to the public as well, if anyone interested in exploring the Internet and "check out their set up."

"We are the only campus in the district, that is hooked up by a fiber optic system," Hernandez said.

He said the grant awarded to the campus covers maintenance costs for a year and "we'll have to go out and look for more money," thereafter.

Via the Internet, a user can access numerous computer banks throughout the world, said Hernandez. "We literally have the world at our fingertips. We can do research in any field.

"The only limitation I have, is I only have two computers, but we're very fortunate to have this kind of technology in Barstow. I want the rest of the district to benefit from what we've got," he added.

As a member of the CPDT, the 65-student campus can conduct its conferences at the end of every six-week grading period with the student, parent and any other party involved with the student's academic performance.

Education students, serving as student teachers, visit the campus after each six-week period and take over classes while each student and his or her parents meet with a Barstow Elementary staff member.

For more information or questions on the high-tech, classroom set-up, Hernandez can be reached at 445-6741.

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