Posted: Monday, January 4, 2016

With focused professional development and team training, teachers at Thomas E. Kerns Elementary are not only embracing iPad technology but are also developing interactive and exciting ways to bring learning and fun together.

Instructional Technology Facilitator Kelly Smith last year introduced teachers to iPad technology using a single cart of iPads that was checked out and moved from classroom to classroom.

This year, the school has integrated personalized learning through the use of technology by providing one iPad for every student. “Principal Judy Mulkey thought this was so important that she wanted to have training for the teachers during the school day,” said Smith. “It’s been a really strong team effort and that’s helped the teachers embrace it.”

Jeannie Ramsey, a third grade teacher, said immediately after the staff trainings she came back to her room and practiced what Smith had introduced. “She models how teachers and students can use different strategies,” she explained. “I wasn’t comfortable with it at first, but Kelly showed me different things and I kept at it. Now, I’m not afraid to try something new and I know the other teachers will help me if I need it.”

Mulkey said she wants teachers to enhance the learning process by providing lessons that are project-oriented and more engaging. “We want our children to have the gamut of experiences and gain proficiency with technology before they move out of the elementary setting into middle school,” she said.

Matthew, a student in Lacy Wineberger’s second grade classroom, said, “My favorite part of using the iPad is that it brings learning and fun together and it forms into one. We’re taking picture of things that are magnetic and writing about it on the iPad.” He continued around the room taking pictures of a ruler, a crayon and a doorknob to insert into his project.

Izabella, a student in Ms. Ramsey’s third grade classroom, said her favorite app is Book Creator. “I am doing animal research and studying about bald eagles,” she said. “They are on the American flag and are the symbol of freedom. I’m writing a book about eagles using the app,” she said, smiling.

For Shalonda Blakeney, a fourth grade teacher, the personalized learning initiative allows her to differentiate her instruction. “Students have more small group time, and I can work closely with the student who needs more focus while the others move along at their pace,” she said.

Blakeney is excited about her students’ response to using technology. “I’ve seen a huge increase in student engagement. They are on task, they are excited, and they love anything and everything about the iPads,” she said.

Mulkey and Smith have worked together all year to prepare staff development opportunities that include demonstrations on how to explore apps that work with different lessons. “We are not innate learners like our students,” said Mulkey. “We have carved out many different hours for staff training. They are sharing apps to create things I had not even envisioned.”

Click here for an inside look at iPads in the classroom.

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