Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Technology Newsletter

iPad initiative year one

iPad Initiative, Year One Reflection

During the 2011-12 school year the North Reading Public Schoolsintroduced iPads into the classrooms for use with students.  The process began last spring when five cartswere purchased, one for each of our five schools.  Our cart recipients deserve congratulations:Peter Kane, Christopher Roofe, Beth Brown, Helen Kelley, and Gretchen Shaw wentabove and beyond this year in providing support for all educators in the programas well as maintaining these carts for use with a classroom full of eagerstudents!  Additionally, Joanne Coughlinand Randy Pyrcz, along with the entire technology team, should be commended fortheir roles in setting up and supporting this emerging technology.

Some highlights from this initiative include one of our cartrecipients, Helen Kelley, presenting to an over-capacity crowd of educators atthe Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence presentation in April.  This fall several of our educators will bepresenting at the state-wide MASSCUE conference at Gillette Stadium. 

Throughout the summer educators engaged in professionaldevelopment in order to learn the best ways to utilize this new device withstudents.  They quickly learned that theiPad is NOT a laptop replacement but a whole new device that can do many thingsthat no other device before it can do. This is not about using a new tool to do the same old things in newways.  This is about changing the way weteach, the way students learn.

Throughout the year our educators gathered, both in person and ina virtual space, to discuss and share their experiences.  Some of the highlights from thesereflections:

They had so much more fun with the app than simply with paper andpencil review.  They were interested,identifying their mistakes and working with each other.
--Sally Sorrentino, grade 6 Math

In previous years, this lesson was created through SMART notes forthe detail and the textbook for basic information.  This year, the notes were still used, butreinforced with the information provided by the Smithsonian website through theapp.  Students were far more engaged withthis lesson than they were in previous years.
--Chris Roofe, grade 7 Social Studies

More often than not, my students complete math work individuallyor in pairs. With this lesson, students completed the work in small groups,which allowed them to gain perspective from other peers. This lesson helped meto track individual learning and provided an opportunity for me to facilitatestudent reflections. As the teacher, I was able to visually confirm thatstudents were checking their work.
-Shana Capolupo, grade 4

Rather than having problems on the board where only a few studentsget to show their understanding, each child had an opportunity to practice over50 problems. While practicing they are able to get immediate feedback on ifthey are completing the work correctly. It has made a huge difference for the reluctant learners who are nervousto come to the front or raise their hand. It also helps me differentiate my lessons on the spot.  I can quickly see who is having difficulty,who needs more practice and who can move on to a more challenging activity thatputs their skills to use. 
--Helen Kelley, grade 4

As evidenced by these reflections, engagement is the key. For the2012-13 school year nearly 30 new educators will be supported in the programand even more students will be exposed to iPad featured lessons and I am veryexcited to see what lies ahead in year two of this initiative.