Tablets and iPad testing is underway in Burbank Unified schools as the Technology Task Force works with teachers to determine their next recommendations to the Board of Education.
The Tech Task Force recently put forth two items, an interactive white board and a document camera, as integral components of the 21st Century Classroom BUSD plans to roll out district-wide in the coming years.
Funds for the selected device(s) will come from the Measure S Bond allotment. The task force is also having teachers try out and compare Microsoft Office and Google Docs as an interactive response solution.
“We are currently working with Amplify to receive two class sets of tablets and software at Jordan Middle School and Miller Elementary,” said Bob Martin, BUSD’s Teacher on Special Assignment for Instructional Technology. “We are testing an iPad cart at Luther. We are also working with other companies to see about testing other one-on-one devices.”
Testing with the Amplify tablets begins April 14 at Jordan and Miller, added Martin.
“We are hoping to put forth a recommendation at the end of this school year,” Martin continued. “If needed, we will continuing testing devices into the start of the 2014-15 school year. The important factor is to find a device that works for the students and provides the best solutions for the schools.”
Seventh-grade Social Studies teacher Stefanie Enokian has been using iPads with all of her students throughout the day at Luther Middle School. Various paid and free applications are employed for teaching, testing and special projects.
Using the iPad in class takes extra effort by to manage the kids and keep them on task, Enokian said. But, she has been impressed with the level of engagement from the students using the one-to-one technology.
“I could give them an assignment where they have to use pen and paper to write their answer and they will hardly write anything,” she said. “But if I give them the same assignment and have them type their answers using the iPads, they beg me for more time and every kid is engaged and typing away. It’s amazing!”
Enokian’s students use the iPads for research and to create poster presentations using the ComicLife app. They can word process documents via the iPad’s Pages feature and use the NearPod app for notes, imbedded video and quizzes. Students can also easily create video presentations.
“It’s a great teaching tool for kids to have non-fiction text at their fingertips and make connections with what we are studying,” added Enokian.
In-class use begins with students logging in to an individual iPad with their student number and then accessing the learning app with a class-specific code. As each class moves through the material, the app remembers which parts of the lesson were covered in class and the next day, the teacher can pick up where individual classes left off, if a lesson was not completed.
Enokian has one student act a tech director in each class. The tech director projects the day’s lesson on a screen in front of the class and may zoom in on a specific item to highlight as the teacher talks.
Enokian walks around the class with a master iPad and controls the pace of the lesson and the motion of the instructional slides. She can see each student log in and track their answers and responses to questions and quizzes.
If a student exits out of the app the class is using and opens another app, Enokian can see that immediately and correct the issue. Whatever students draw is visible, so if a student draws a doodle, instead of the specified activity, Enokian can see that too and get the student back on task.
Although students can log on to specific apps, another app allows Enokian to push programs and tests to student iPads. Scores from the tests and quizzes are sent immediately to her iPad and she can then send the grades to her grade book.
Enokian has 40 iPads on the lockable cart in her classroom, allowing for a few spares if a device should have unresolved technical issues requiring support.
Other Luther teachers have borrowed the cart for specific lessons. One science teacher recently used the iPads to teach about the human eye, related Enokian. Students could see inside the eye and three-dimensionally and perhaps understand more clearly the structure of the eye.
Vivian Iniguez and Alexa Garcia, both 12, collaborated in class on a visual project about work in the Middle Ages. They found examples of stained glass windows online and added them to their poster presentation about work as a stained glass artist.
“Using the iPads just makes it more interesting,” said Garcia. “I remember what I do more.”
“Taking the quizzes are better on the iPad than on paper,” added Iniguez. “We get to look at the words we are learning and then can take the quiz right after.”
The iPads connect with a wide range of students and differing styles of learning. For students, many of whom have grown up with access to technology, one-to-one tablets are familiar and easy to use.
“Reading on an iPad is more fun than reading a textbook,” said 12-year-old Maki Salvador. “There are videos.”
“We don’t have to write a lot and learn from the textbooks,” added 12-year-old classmate Hermine Keshishyan. “Textbooks are boring. Since we’ve been using the iPads for a few months now, learning about social studies is more exciting.”