Teachers came in groups of 20 throughout three days of training. Bradley County Schools technology coaches were also able to get in on the action Wednesday.
Waterville recently purchased iPads through funds from the Race to the Top Focus Grant that was awarded by the state. These funds also provided for the three days of training.
“We knew to get the most out of the iPads, we would need some major training,” Title 1 teacher Lisa Gwaltney said.
Gwaltney coordinated the training and having Huggins come to Bradley County. Gwaltney said she hopes the two mobile labs of iPads purchased with the grant will give teachers access to new resources and give students more hands-on learning experiences.
Waterville technology coach Shelly Earls said the goal is to have a device for each classroom.
During the training, Huggins highlighted specific educational apps as well as podcasts, QR codes, iMovies, voice-over apps and websites with other educational resources. Apps highlighted ranged from those focusing on content, such as math or reading, to one that can help track student behavior in the classroom. One such app, Class Dojo, displays an avatar for each student which can be given rewards or have them taken away throughout the day. Connecting the iPad to a classroom’s interactive display board allows students to see how their avatar is doing.
In addition to sharing about apps, Huggins highlighted how teachers could maximize one iPad in the classroom and have each student feel involved.
The new technology has also been beneficial for the Comprehensive Development Classes at Waterville.
“It’s been great, because they are normally not going to be able to use a computer or cannot hold a mouse or control a mouse,” Earls said. “With an iPad, it’s opened a world to them that they hadn’t been able to use before.”
She said The Weather Channel app has also allowed teachers to show students how they are a part of a bigger world.
Before attending the training, Bradley County technology coaches met on Tuesday to discuss how schools are already implementing this new technology.
“I think the iPad brings us a device that does something that the other pieces of technology that we have do not,” Michigan Avenue technology coach Lesha Crawley said. “We have an integrated microphone camera, making it very easy for even young children to create. We’re excited about projects that might have taken weeks ... young children can do. Now [it’s mostly just] drag and drop in a matter of minutes.”
Crawley said the school system’s move to the Common Core educational standards iPads will be helpful in teaching and completing digital publishing requirements. By third grade, students will be required, “with guidance and support from adults, to use technology to produce and publish writing, as well as to interact and collaborate with others.” A similar standard, with increasing difficulty in higher grades, is required for each grade level.
The devices may also be useful when the state switches from the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers test. The PARCC assessment will be required to be completed electronically. Crawley said details are still being worked out, but the iPad is an approved device for taking the test. Earls said certain apps will also prepare students for the new assessment by giving them a new platform in which to work math problems. “Educreation” is one popular app that gives students the ability to record what they create on a white screen.
Teachers have already used the technology in gym classes, to enhance math instruction, to record students reading aloud and provide practice for basic skills. Most recent iPad technology also gives teachers the control to lock a device on a certain app or control a student’s screen via a wireless connection.
Many schools in Bradley County are adding iPad technology through grants. This year teachers at Michigan Avenue Elementary School and Prospect Elementary School received iPads from mini-grants awarded by the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation. Each kindergarten class at Prospect now has a set of four iPads, according to Earls.
Not every school in Bradley County has iPads.
“It’s something that is just in the beginning stages in Bradley County ... but we have some schools that are pioneering it,” Crawley said.
Through a variety of grants Taylor Elementary will have enough iPads for students in fourth and fifth grades to use one. Taylor technology Coach Sharon Prohaska said the iPads have been delivered but use of the technology has not been fully implemented yet.
There are 550 iPads in use in Bradley County elementary schools.