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Tablet And iPad Testing Begins In Burbank Schools

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.

Luther Middle School students in Stefanie Enokian's 7th grade Social Studies class work on iPads alongside traditional pen and paper. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Luther Middle School students in Stefanie Enokian’s seventh-grade Social Studies class work on iPads alongside traditional pen and paper. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

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.”

Vivian Iniguez and Alexa Garcia work on a visual project about stained glass artists in the Middle Ages. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Vivian Iniguez and Alexa Garcia work on a visual project about stained glass artists in the Middle Ages. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

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!”

Teacher Stefanie Enokian works with two students on their visual project about jobs in the Middle Ages. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Teacher Stefanie Enokian works with two students on their visual project about jobs in the Middle Ages. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

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.

Student tech director Jay Vassaux highlights some text for the seventh-grade Social Studies class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Student tech director Jay Vassaux highlights some text for the seventh-grade Social Studies class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

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.

Students work on a lesson about feudal power structure utilizing both pen and paper and iPads, in preparation for a quiz. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students work on a lesson about feudal power structure utilizing both pen and paper and iPads, in preparation for a quiz. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

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.”

Students work in project groups using the iPads. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students work in project groups using the iPads. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

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.”

Students take a quiz on the iPads. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students take a quiz on the iPads. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

BUSD Tech Task Force Issues Recommendations To School Board

After more than a year of testing, the BUSD Tech Task Force has settled on two items to recommend for placement in Burbank Unified classrooms: SMART interactive white boards and Aver document cameras. Task force member Bob Martin and the District’s Director of Instruction and Accountability Sharon Cuseo presented these recommendations to the Board of Education recently.

“The projected roll-out is this coming summer for the first round,” commented Martin, a former Muir Middle and Burbank High English teacher who has been working for BUSD as Teacher On Special Assignment (TOSA) for Instructional Technology since 2012. “This is based on expectations of board approval.”

“Subsequent roll-outs will be determined by the second and third issuance of bond funds,” he added. “Our goal is to eventually have every classroom fitted with new technology.”

Teacher Debbie McHorney interacts with the SMART Board. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Teacher Debbie McHorney interacts with the SMART Board. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“While we do not have a definitive number of teachers willing to take on the new technology; based on conversations with teachers, our on-line survey, and interest at the October meeting where the technology was demonstrated, we believe that we will have more volunteers than available technology,” Martin explained.

The cost to outfit an individual classroom with an interactive white board, a document camera, an audio system and an interactive response solution for teachers and students, including labor, is approximately $10,000, according to Charles Poovakan, Director of Information Technology and Educational Support for the district.

While the current plan is limited to 20 classrooms because of the $200,000 budget the task force was initially given, the cost for complete district-wide implementation of the initial elements is expected to be close to nine million dollars, for over 800 areas in schools and offices, Poovakan explained.

The technology funds in the first issuance of the Measure S bond are being used to strengthen the infrastructure required for the 21st Century Classroom and typical daily operations. A relatively small allotment of funds in the first phase of the bond is planned for use to purchase the actual technology items.

Burroughs teacher Kevin Hiatt uses the Aver document camera daily. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burroughs teacher Kevin Hiatt uses the Aver document camera daily. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Eight teachers who tested the items for the task force will be among the first to receive the new technology. The other 12 systems will be placed at eight elementary schools, the Burbank Adult School, Monterey High School, Community Day School and the District Office.

“Anything you can do on a computer you can do on the SMART Board,” commented Burroughs High School teacher Debbie McHorney, who is also the high school JV Girls Basketball coach. “You can write right on the board, mark it up, with a pen or your finger.”

McHorney also finds Google Docs very useful to ask study questions of her students. She uses the voice amplifier system that came with the SMART Board, so she doesn’t have to stress her voice to be heard clearly throughout the classroom.

Burroughs High School teacher Kevin Hiatt also uses the Aver document camera every day. He is able to run a timer for the classroom to see while students complete in-class work and uses the device to go over student answers.

Kevin Hiatt fills in his answer during a timed in-class assignment.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Kevin Hiatt fills in his answer during a timed in-class assignment.(Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“The document cameras are wonderful. I can now show my students demos, notes, pictures, diagrams, drawings, etc. up on the large projector screen for everyone to clearly see,” commented Burroughs Biology teacher Jill Tobin.

“I haven’t yet used the microscope adaptor, but am excited about its capabilities. I honestly use my document camera every single day, and it is as vital to my instruction as my computer,” she added. “I couldn’t imagine teaching without it. Being a visual learner, as many people are, it is nice to be able to show my students virtually anything we’re learning about; live and in color!”

At a February School Board meeting, Board Member Larry Applebaum expressed frustration with the relatively small number, 20, of classrooms for the initial roll out.

“I don’t care what we have to do, we need to come up with a plan to get one hundred of these into the classroom in the next year,” Applebaum said.

“We need to get on this post-haste, but let’s make sure that our plan is exactly what we want,” commented Board President Dave Kemp about getting technology components for the 21st Century Classroom project up and running in the schools. “We’ll get it out there and get it in the hands of kids, ’cause they do need it.”

Teacher Debbie McHorney uses the SMART Board in class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Teacher Debbie McHorney uses the SMART Board in class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“This is how we reach those GATE students and special ed. students,” Applebaum added, emphasizing ways technology can help with teaching to differentiated levels of learning in the classroom.

“Mr. Poovakan and I are happy to move in any direction the Board directs us. That is not a problem,” Cuseo underlined at the meeting, indicating the district’s ability to increase the number of classrooms outfitted in the initial 21st Century Classroom roll out, if the Board of Education allocates additional money to the project.

The current Technology Task Force started meeting monthly in spring 2013 and is headed up by Poovakan. A typical meeting usually has around 12 members, including teachers from elementary, middle and high schools, classified staff, technology personnel and administrators.

“The task force is an open committee that anyone can attend. In the past, we have had a parent present as well,” said Martin.

During the meetings, the technology department updates the members with the current projects regarding infrastructure, explained Martin. They “discuss needs throughout the district, ways technology can better support teachers and software/hardware that should be researched for possible inclusion in the classroom.”

A student selects an answer on the SMART Board. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

A student selects an answer on the SMART Board. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The Board of Education is expected to reach a decision soon on approval and scope of the initial outfitting of classrooms with the SMART Boards, Aver document cameras and accompanying components. The Tech Task Force is currently overseeing testing of additional elements, including tablets and one-to-one devices, at various schools this spring.