Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • IPad initiative, Concerns addressed

  • Questions were flying as USD 443 Board of Education members sought answers concerning the implementation of the iPad Initiative at a work session Monday night. The current goal is to have an iPad in the hand of every child in the district by the first of the year."We are here to do what is best for our kids," Assistant Su...
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  • Questions were flying as USD 443 Board of Education members sought answers concerning the implementation of the iPad Initiative at a work session Monday night. The current goal is to have an iPad in the hand of every child in the district by the first of the year.
    "We are here to do what is best for our kids," Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Judy Beedles-Miller said in a presentation to the board. "We have to prepare them for college and career readiness."
    Beedles-Miller was joined by Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Mischel Miller as the two discussed the SAMR Model that supports teachers while they design, develop and integrate learning technologies to support higher levels of learning. The SAMR model describes four levels of technology integration that increase in complexity and effect, from simple substitution, which Beedles-Miler said is where most of us are, to a more complex level of redefinition where the technology use can provide opportunities to create what would not be possible without that technology.
    "Teachers are working with curriculum to help them know how to apply the concept of 'depth of knowledge' for higher level thinking skills," Beedles-Miller said. That higher level is something she said Kansas College and Career Readiness standards call for, along with collaboration and learning that is project based. Board member Jeff Hiers asked how the iPads factor in with state assessments.
    "The benefits of this are not in this minute; they're going to show in our kids being more college and career ready when they graduate," Miller said. "I think we'll see the level of interest and engagement from our kids increase."
    Another concern expressed was teacher training. Jayne Jones, Instructional Technology Coach, and Tom Barnes with Southwest Plains Regional Service Center, are meeting with teachers to help acclimate them to the new technology. Jones meets with the elementary teachers once a month to work on teaching strategies while Barnes is available for the middle school and high school level teachers.
    "We wanted to create an opportunity for teachers to learn in a way that's best for them," Miller said.
    Ross Elementary is rolling out the iPad Initiative in September as a pilot school. Principal Amy Loder said acceptable use policies were signed by the parents and she's developed a timeline of support for the teachers as the school moves through the deployment.
    "First I want to thank [the board] or giving our kids the opportunity to pilot the iPads," she said. There's a lot of excitement in planning for the deployment and the parents are excited, too."
    Loder is also providing parents with a timeline on how she's going to communicate with them on the use of the iPads in the classrooms.
    "They want to make sure it's not just a bunch of fun and games," she said. "I want to make sure they understand we're using these to enhance instruction and create project-based learning."
    Page 2 of 4 - Beeson Elementary School Principal Kelly Bolin discussed how the district is using iTunes U to create courses for English Language Arts, math, science and social studies at the kindergarten-5th grade level.
    "Teachers can log in and get everything they need – curriculum maps, videos, handouts – it's all in one place," she said.
    Several schools are taking the concept even further and used iTunes U to dispense back-to-school information to staff.
    "We did all of the beginning of the year professional development without a piece of paper and without a single complaint that there was no paper," Bolin said. "I was really nervous because it was a shift but they shifted beautifully."
    Board president Lisa Killion was concerned about what would happen when a substitute was needed in a classroom that used iPads.
    "We've talked a lot about substitute training and stuff we need to provide but that's still kind of in the works," Miller said. In the meantime, substitutes would operate in exactly the same way they have been.
    Hiers asked what would happen when students left the iPad, and subsequently their coursework, at home.
    "K-8 won't take them home and for the high school students, teachers won't alter what's planned," Miller said. "Kids need to understand they have to be prepared and responsible."
    Board member Ryan Ausmus said he has a child in the third grade and if second grade was any indication, there was going to be a lot of homework.
    "I'm a believer in homework but how does that work if we're trying to integrate everything with the iPad but they can't take it home," he asked.
    According to Beedles-Miller, students will still have textbooks they can take home, as well as reading books as the iPads are not going to be utilized throughout the entire school day.
    "There is a balance and a boundary," Miller said. "I have no expectation and would not ask my administrators to ask their teachers to use it all day. There has to be a balance."
    Beedles-Miller said another concern from parents was regarding students looking up answers. She said the goal is not the answer but in teaching them how to come up with the answer.
    "Learners are different now than they used to be and it's up to us to teach them in a way they can learn best," Superintendent Alan Cunningham said.
    Miller added that the way they show their learning is another thing that has changed dramatically.
    "We had one way to show what we learned," she said, referring to the reports students have traditionally given to show work. "You hand these students an iPad and they'll show you what they've learned in a lot of different ways and they're all good."
    Page 3 of 4 - Hiers said his company was implementing the iPads and he was finding it very frustrating because it was causing a time management problem. He said his concern was for the staff that "had full-time jobs before this" and now are going to have textbooks and this new technology.
    ""We hear you guys and you're excited and I love your enthusiasm but I'm really concerned because I've seen it with only 100 employees and how it's bogged down our productivity," he said.
    Miller said the iPads would actually make things a little easier for staff by making their planning more efficient.
    Dodge City High School Principal Jacque Feist agreed with Hiers and said it would absolutely be a time management piece but one that could be broken down into smaller pieces so it could be meaningful for everyone. She said she was reluctant when she first heard of the iPad Initiative in April because she knew her staff wasn't ready but feels good about where the high school is now in terms of readiness.
    "We have taken our time preparing the teachers but there are some who are going to need more one-on-one time. It's been a huge learning curve for us," she said. "I believe [the success or failure of this implementation really is going to be determined by the leaders in the buildings – how we model it for staff, what we share with them. If we don't stand in front of them and show them how important it is, then we won't be successful."
    Killion asked what was going to happen to buildings that may not have that kind of leadership.
    "My theme on this whole thing is just to keep the herd moving gently west," Cunningham said. "There are goals we have to get to and the teachers are the trail bosses. They have to get the kids there one way or another. Some are going to move faster than others – just like the kids. I honestly believe there are some teachers right now who would leave Dodge City if we told them we weren't going to offer the iPads for all students."
    Ausmus said that while the board has been supporting this, they've had some apprehensions concerning cost, staff, etc.
    "But with what you've just said, for me, personally, my mind is much more at ease," he said regarding Feist's statements.
    According to Executive Director of Business and Operations William Hammond, there is $2.9 million available from the 2012-2013 contingency reserve and capital outlay funds, as well as $1.2 million budgeted for the 2013-2014 year. The district redirected $250,000 that was normally used for textbooks and $250,000 earmarked for technology to help finance the iPad Initiative.
    "With funds available right now, we can pay for the entire K-12 one-to-one implementation," Cunningham said.
    Page 4 of 4 - The discussion turned to the implementation schedule and Cunningham said the district currently has 1176 in place and is adding 400 for Ross in September. If the board approved the purchase of 1260 each month, the one-to-one initiative would be complete in January. However, since that's such a lofty schedule, Cunningham said the district discussed other options.
    "We discussed letting teachers who are ready move to the front of the line and those who are reluctant move to the back until they're ready but there's not an option not to do it. I think the parents are going to demand it," he said. He said 835 could be added monthly, beginning in September, and the full implementation would be complete in February.
    "I don't think we'll have problems with phased-in implementation, as long as each school is being phased in," Killion said. "I think we need to be cautious that we don't have a school that isn't getting any implementation."
    Cunningham said the goal is to get them in the hands of everyone as quickly as the district can afford.
    "We're ready to bring the discussion back to you [at the September board meeting,]' he said. "The money is there and the staff development is in place. That's where we are."
    The next regularly-scheduled board meeting is Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Austen Auditorium, 1000 N. 2nd Avenue.
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