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LJ middle school a finalist for classroom makeover

20111118_LJISD_TECH-CLASSROOMLA JOYA — A La Joya middle school is among five finalists to receive a classroom makeover, up to $75,000, provided by eInstruction.

eInstruction designs and manufactures software and technology equipment specifically for classroom use.

Students at Dr. Javier Saenz Middle School submitted a music video in October explaining how they would use technology in their classroom and why they deserved the classroom makeover. Their two-and-a-half-minute video was one of 15 chosen out of more than 250 submissions. Teacher Oscar Garcia, who proposed the idea to his class, said there were more than 100 entries just in the middle school division.

Garcia, an advanced placement math teacher, said he received information about the competition at the beginning of the school year and posed the idea to his students. While the idea was there, no one really acted on it, he said. It wasn’t until a reminder about the deadline for the contest was received that he brought it up to the class again. They managed to put something together in five days – two days of filming and three days of editing.

The whole school participated in the project, said Garcia. The students pushed to participate.

“I was just there for support,” he said.

While his seventh-grade AP math class was the class featured in the video, there were shufflers throughout the video and a lot of work done behind the scenes. Yearbook students organized and recorded each dancer individually using a green screen, the art department created props such as eInstruction buttons and flying clickers and put the video together with video editing software.

The work did not stop there, though. The chords and melody were written and played by the guitar director Marcelino Farias and eighth-grade student Jared Garza. Jasmin Vargas, a seventh-grader, sang and wrote the lyrics and was accompanied by other students at the school in the video.

According to the contest website, students had to follow contest guidelines, which included showing an image of at least one of three products, including “eInstruction” at least once in the lyrics of the song and showing the eInstruction logo. Entries are judged on effectiveness of demonstrating the use of technology in the classroom, collaboration between students and teachers in creating the video, and overall creativity and spirit.

A description of the video on the eInstruction website reads, “In the beginning, man’s quest for knowledge has always been left wanting more. The first steps have been taken. A new generation has emerged: Bigger, Better, Faster… If we arm ourselves with only pencil and paper, the battle is already lost. No! My brothers and sisters, we will rise, take this new eGeneration, and head them into the future. A dream that became a reality for our campus was inspired by a challenge. Could eInstruction truly bring our campus together?”

The video starts out with a principal who seems to have lost hope on educating students that are bored with class instruction. As the video progresses and the technology gets in their hands, the students become more engaged and excited about learning.

The description also states that no one person deserves the credit for the video, “rather you for giving us this wonderful opportunity to make learning at school what it was intended to be… fun.”

Garcia said they did not know what to expect when submitting their video.

“All the videos are very good,” he said.

The whole school is excited about this opportunity, Garcia and Jasmin said.

The students check the ranking of their video daily. The video has been rotating between first and second place. On Wednesday, the school was in first place. The school’s website is even keeping tabs on their ranking and the other Rio Grande Valley school in the elementary division, Olmito Elementary in Brownsville, that also has a chance to win. The school district also has a link to the website on their home page.

When asked how the technology will be used if they win, Garcia said it would not only be used in just his classroom.

“It’s going to help the whole school in the sense that technology nowadays is essential for learning.

“They love it. They get engaged in the lesson,” Garcia said of technology. “It’s the future. The future is now.”

Jasmin said that with the new technology the students would be able to do so much more.

“It’s very nice to be top five and to almost feel the technology at our fingertips,” said Jasmin.

Should the school not win, they’ve gotten the contest itch and plan to submit again.

“We’re not going to let that get us down,” Jasmin said of not winning. “We’re probably going to catch up next year, and we’re just going to do the exact same thing.”

It is up to voters to help choose who wins the makeover. Online votes will count toward 40 percent of the entrant’s final score. Judges of the competition determine the other 60 percent. A link to the video will be posted on our website for readers to vote for the school’s entry. Voters must be over 18 and create an account to vote. Voting ends Dec. 5. eInstruction has also partnered with other businesses to provide the classroom makeover. To vote, visit http://2011classroommakeover.shycast.com/p/1.

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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