George W. Davis
GREEN: Teachers and student at Green Primary School have put a high-tech twist on learning.
A short visit to the second-grade classroom of instructor Joy Dearing was somewhat of a surprise, at first glance, with desks in no particular order and hardly any of her 24 pupils in sight.
But they were there, working with iPads in corners, or sitting on the floor in small groups or standing at out-of-the way tabletops creating books about themselves or bringing their imaginations to life.
I her ninth year of teaching at Green, Dearing was having iPad day with 10 units that are rotated through Green Primary’s seven-teacher second grade team.
Students McKenna Jurkowski and Mallory Crabtree were using the new “Scribble Press” app to create their book and take photos to illustrate their work.
Meanwhile, Evalienna “Evie” Pryor and Brycen Hosey were reviewing their creativity as Evie said, “I’ve been drawing and writing, and I want to be an author and illustrator” once she completes school.
And it’s no wonder the school of 943 students has adopted the motto “Where Amazing Happens,” because that is what occurs daily whether there is just one iPad in each classroom or if there are enough for everyone to share for an entire school day.
No longer are classrooms just row after row of desks lined up behind each other, while a teacher stands in front of a chalkboard trying to drum home the day’s lesson to his or her pupils.Now on iPad day, desks are often facing in many different directions with few, if any, students in their seats. Most children are in small groups of two or more, working on various assignments, subjects and projects.
Some may be reading and spelling with their peers, while others are creating illustrated storybooks, using some of the nearly 300 apps available on each iPad.
The 162 iPads at Green Primary were privately donated, paid for with grant funds or money from fundraisers. No general fund money was used to finance the project, Principal Kevin Finefrock said.
He noted that his teachers, who first received iPads last school year, now have opened their doors to their colleagues so they could witness how the school’s high-tech tools are being incorporated in their lesson plans.
Dearing was among 20 primary teachers who had a one-day training session with an Apple representative last fall and then used their talents and expertise to train their colleagues.
Students are also are using recently learned techniques to teach their classmates and to show teachers how much they are learning by using these wireless “educators.”
With the “technological wizards” rotated through the classrooms for a whole day about once a week, the pupils (with the aid of teachers and classmates) are improving their reading, spelling, writing, math, science and social studies skills as they expand their minds to face what’s ahead in this ever-expanding 21st Century.
A professional development day was held earlier this month, using instructional rounds based on the work of Harvard University Professor Dr. Richard Elmore, with focus on enhancing instruction with the iPad.
Finefrock said teachers worked in small groups as they observed and collected data in their colleagues’ classrooms.
“The professional day aimed at enhancing instruction through the usage of iPads was definitely a success,” Finefrock said. “We have a talented team of teachers, and I deeply appreciated their willingness to open up their classrooms and share ideas with their colleagues.”
Finefrock added, “An important part of our vision at GPS is to offer our students an elite technology experience.”
Holding an iPad over a pupil’s paper and using a wireless signal can share the student’s work on the Apple TV screen so all can learn at the same time.
The system also can be used to Skype with another teacher’s classroom within the building or in other cities so pupils can learn even more, the instructor said.
“I’m able to definitely individualize their learning with the iPad,” Dearing said.
“It’s an ideal classroom in the 21st Century,” said Finefrock. “Seeing kids collaborate with one another and innovate, you bring kids to a higher level of technical thinking.”