Never Miss out on Another Class

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Some fifth-graders in Page can stay home from school sick and still keep up with instruction. Lake View Elementary School teacher Chuck Serventi loads selected lessons on his "HelloWorld" Web site for viewing at home. Serventi's results have prompted 17 other teachers in Page Unified School District to follow his lead. Serventi, a sixth-year teacher at Lake View, used more than $3,000 in grants to get this new program under way.

The grants permitted him to acquire a Smart Board and help direct other teachers in the 3,070-student district in extreme northern Arizona to their own HelloWorld sites. "I've always been interested in using technology in the classroom," said Serventi, who acquired a master's from Northern Arizona University two years ago. "It started during my graduate studies at NAU, where I was influenced by a professor, James Manley, who inspired me to use real-life lessons to motivate my students, and Hello World became an extension of that." Serventi uses a webcam to send his lessons by video blog and podcast onto a screen in the classroom. Students can either watch him working at a whiteboard on one side of the room, or glance at the video image on the screen on the opposite wall.

Students who happen to be absent on a given day can watch his broadcast lessons live, as they are being taught, with slides and polling questions from class. They can also chat with Serventi from their homes if they do not understand the lessons or if they have additional questions. An additional feature allows them to watch a broadcast on computer while Serventi gives a different live lesson. One of his students, Shyanna Kinsel, said she logs on about three times a week, sometimes with her parents. She has found it helpful in the even t she has forgotten a lesson or doesn't understand it when it is given.

Serventi's link, features the lessons along with video messages from friends and colleagues. The 37-year-old Tucson native has a part-time gig as a drummer, and some of his musician friends have posted messages on the site. A canned food drive conducted by Lake View students last fall was recognized by some of Serventi's friends in video messages. Serventi played the messages for his students onto the screen. Serventi's students received messages from as far away as Australia and from famous people such as Lez Warner, a drummer from the popular 1980s band, The Cult. Some of Serventi's students recognized The Cult's music from their Playstation game, "Guitar Hero." Serventi pays $9.99 a month to subscribe to the website. His subscription arrangement prohibits advertisements from popping up, as is the case with social networking sites.

Another of his students, Kellsey Arnett, said the web lessons help her mother understand new math concepts such as expanded algorithms in multiplication and division. "If she doesn't get what we're trying to do, or the way that we do the math, then I can show her the lesson that we did," Arnett said. Patricia Beeler's parents are both teachers, and she said, "They think that 'HelloWorld' is a good way to remind kids of how they did math." Shelbylynn Rocke said, "You can do your homework on the day you're absent, and you can log onto 'HelloWorld and see what the lesson is about." "I like 'HelloWorld' because it can help if the kids don't get it in class and if they don't get the right clarification, they can go on 'HelloWorld' and watch it again and get the information," said Kyra Hughes. "I use it when I miss a day, or over the weekends," said Bryson Wester.

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