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Online teacher collaboration nets West Side school $15,000

At the West Side Collaborative, a small middle school on the Upper West Side, teachers relish being in two places at once.

Their freedom from the time-space continuum is made possible by the school’s use of Google applications to let teachers share resources online. The tools, showcased in a video the school produced, last week won Principal Jeanne Rotunda the Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for School Innovation from Teaching Matters, a nonprofit that helps schools integrate technology.

The tools have made it possible for teachers to hold meetings online, rather than taking up precious space in the school itself, Rotunda said. They can also share reports from different meetings they attend.

The system feels like second nature now, Rotunda said, but even at a school that belongs to the city’s two-year-old Innovation Zone, it took a while to win some teachers over to the new approach.

“Two years ago there was anxiety around using technology in the classroom and in two years the growth and movement we’ve made is really significant,” she said. “I think it’s because the teachers really took the lead. … Once we saw the impact with the students, it kept moving.”

Rotunda said she would use the $15,000 prize to purchase iPads for each of the school’s 20 teachers. She’ll also use the prize money to pay for additional technology training, she said.

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