One fourth-grade class of about 20 students at Kyrene del Milenio Elementary School in Ahwatukee Foothills sat in a traditional line of chairs in their homeroom one morning, as their teacher wrote out math problems by hand on a whiteboard.
A typical classroom some would say.
That is until they look to the right of the whiteboard at the Smart Board screen connected to Apple TV, controlled by any one of the iPads that happened to be sitting in the student’s laps.
Part of Kyrene School District’s Teaching with Technology Initiative, the iPads were integrated into the curriculum this year by the students’ homeroom teacher, Greg Broberg. As the only class in the district trying out the iPads, administrators hope to see more being used as learning supplements.
“The kids are really engaged and that’s the whole purpose,” said Mark Share, director of technology at the district.
With a program called Explain Everything, the kids took turns with control of the Smart Board that “mirrored” a student’s iPad screen, solving math puzzles and lessons on multiplication charts.
Jordan Settles, 10, had never used an iPad before the school year started six weeks ago.
“It’s really fun,” he said. “Instead of writing on papers, we can write on the iPads.”
Not only do the students write and use programs for problem solving, but they can scan any of the QR codes Broberg has placed around the room, which will lead them to either quizzes, lesson materials, or online versions of their textbooks.
“It lets them explore,” said Broberg. “It augments my instruction and allows me to deliver content in more unique ways.”
Broberg added that the iPads aren’t tools to replace him, or just things to use for downtime.
For the district, Broberg and the pilot program are key in figuring out how the iPads can be used on a wider scale.
Last year, according to Share, the community voted for an override that essentially provides $6.8 million per year for the fusion of technology in the district. With the amount of children enrolled at Kyrene, Share also said the importance is in finding appropriate ways to use new technology like the iPads, instead of just throwing them out to everyone.
“(Broberg) is figuring out the ways and then helping us to see how it could work in another classroom,” Share said.
This summer, Broberg went to the district and expressed interest in bringing iPad’s into his classroom. Once given the OK, he worked on how to implement the iPad into the curriculum, finding apps, programs, and different uses for it.
Share mentioned the need of working with school and district technology committees to figure out what makes sense in other schools or for other teachers, also in ways that don’t overwhelm.
In Broberg’s class, however, the atmosphere is focused and fresh, a good blend of tried and true teaching style with an added bonus of the iPad.
“They enjoy the technology, and they have no fear of it,” Broberg said.
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