Technology finds its way into Farmington classroomsThe Farmington School District has had iPads on the brain in recent months.
By: Nathan Hansen, The Farmington Independent
The Farmington School District has had iPads on the brain in recent months.
With the district exploring the possibility of providing Apple’s popular tablet computers to all students and teachers, there has been a lot of talk about the power they have to change the way students learn. A group of teachers and other district staff has met regularly to talk about ways in which the iPads could be used.
The ideas are generating excitement, both within the district and without, but it’s hardly the first example of technology finding its way into the classroom. In the Farmington School District, many teachers are already finding ways to take advantage of new tools.
Flipped classrooms are one example. The classrooms, which several teachers are running as pilot programs this year, ask students to watch a teacher’s recorded lecture at home or in a school computer lab, then do what would normally be homework during class time. The switch allows teachers to spend more time working with students who need the most help while others who have a better grasp on the concept work on their own.
“It allows me to basically talk to every kid about what they’re learning,” said Lewis Miskowicz, who tested a flipped classroom last year in his AP chemistry class and has been running one full time this year. “It’s really easy to talk to a kid and tell if they know what they’re talking about.”
At Akin Road Elementary School, Julie Heckmann turned to Google Earth for lessons about mapping. She and her students find their school and their homes on the program. They also find Heckmann’s house.
“They thought that was the coolest thing in the world to find my house,” Heckmann said.
At Dodge Middle School, sixth grade history teacher Brian Louis uses a service called Schoology that allows students to ask log in and ask questions that can be answered by Louis or other students. It creates a safe environment, he said, to allow students to get the answers they need.
Louis has used the service since October, and his page has been viewed more than 10,000 times by 150 students.
Farmington High School English teacher Kelly Langdon is doing something similar with Twitter. As students read their assignments, she asks them to us the social network to send her their summaries of each chapter’s themes. Twitter’s 140-character limit forces students to distill their ideas down to the basics, and the social nature of the service allows students to carry on conversations beyond the classroom.
Langdon said students who might be quiet in classroom discussions are more likely to speak up from a computer keyboard or a smart phone.
In some cases, students are turning to technology even when it’s not part of their lesson. Boeckman Middle School teacher Pete Fleenor has had students turn in movies and websites as final projects.
That’s a point Dodge Middle School assistant principal Dan Miller made last week when discussing a proposed iPad implementation plan with school board members. Most students use technology at home, he said at a board workshop. It’s only when they come through the school door they turn everything off.
“It’s very much part of who they are,” Miller said.
It’s been the goal of Millers and others in the district’s technology implementation group to take what is already happening in Farmington schools and things happening elsewhere and figure out what will work best if the district moves forward with its iPad plan.
“I just look at it as, we’re trying to create a starting place for people to go to,” Langdon said.
North Trail Elementary School is the only District 192 building that currently has iPads in large numbers. The school has a cart packed with the devices that moves from class to class.
On Monday, students in Rose Forystek’s fifth grade class used the iPads to work through a lesson checklist that included math, geometry and grammar. Some finished early and moved on to programs that let them work on a virtual pottery wheel or decorate gingerbread men.
When Forystek asked the students how many had iPads at home, nearly all raised their hands.