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2011-2012 Westbrook - iPads Supporting Universal Design for Learning Findings

Project and Research Question:

Our small rural school is looking to implement adaptive technology that will encourage our reluctant and struggling students as well as enhance the learning pathways for all learners in our multi-level split grade school.   Our staff is excited to use the iPad interactive technology that support differentiated learning in the classroom by increasing student engagement, learning and multiple ways of demonstrating knowledge and skills.  Our School Education Plan supports the use of this technology as we grow in 21st century skills and innovation.

Westbrook School currently has 168 students from K-Grade 8 inclusive.  We have split grades at every level except Grade 2.  We have eight full-time teachers and one part-time teacher.  Our elementary teachers are considered Generalist teachers who teach all core subjects.  Our Junior High school teachers teach a variety of subjects in both the junior high and elementary subjects.  Teachers regularly use the technology we have available to support learning, engagement and differentiation in the classroom.  There are two Mac carts available for student use as well as 2 document cameras that are regularly shared among teachers.

In the last few years’ teacher projects included igraphic novels, and multi-media presentations that were mind blowing!  Our teachers have gone on to try many other innovative technologies in the classroom such as interactive capabilities of SMART board technology, and the iPod.  Our staff has been encouraged by the technology we have seen and used so far, and we feel the ipad is another tool to support our student learning and engagement, help alleviate the demand of a limited amount of technology that we have available, and support our Junior High students who are off to high school and will be in a very advanced technology environment with one-to-one learning.

Areas of Focus:

Increase literacy in our struggling readers and writers at every grade level.

Resource Room:  Use ipads to increase the pathways for diverse educational needs in those classrooms.

FSL students:  Use of Language Apps to support language development including specific apps that pertain to specific pronunciation and games that encourage language acquisition and development

Junior High Language Arts teacher is looking for new and innovative ways to foster a love of reading and enhance the creative writing process in the split-grade multi-leveled classroom.

Junior High Math teacher is looking for other interactive learning material to support her in the multi-leveled classrooms.  Math apps would support such learning and provide students with self-directed and innovative learning as part of the learning environment.


Current Research Findings:

The iPad cart arrived at our school in January 2012.  We received 25 ipads for student use.  We have a Rocky View technologist Mrs. P. Arseby who is slated to work with our school once a week on Wednesdays.  She was able to set up our ipads, cart and mainframe Mac computer during her weekly sessions.  She also provided us with a session on basic operations of the iPad and proper security set-up of the ipads and cart.  We were also provided with a student security and responsibility form that all students needed to fill out before using.  Our iPad cart became operational for use as of February 20th, upon the return of mid-winter break.

The first few months of using the iPad were very exciting yet slow.  This new technology was first used by our Junior High students in Language Arts, Math and Science classes by teachers who were interested in introducing the technology right away to the students.  Our grade four teacher began to use the technology as well as our Kindergarten/Resource teacher.  By the end of the 2011-2012 year all teachers at our school had had the opportunity to use the ipad in their classrooms.  The ipad was not however, a regularly used tool in classrooms as teachers needed time, and practice themselves to use the tool and become familiar with all of the applications and opportunities it afforded in the classroom.

In May 2012, Westbrook School had two teachers from Ralph McCall School present their work with the ipad in their grade one classrooms.  These two teachers had extensive understanding and practice within their classrooms as both teachers had been using the ipad for the past three years in their classrooms and had their own personal ipad to use at home.   Our staff saw many new applications and a multitude of ways the ipad could be used.  This was an excellent session for our teachers to benefit from at both the Junior High and elementary levels though we had to come to terms with many of the other technology items such as the Apple TV and googledocs  we were presented with were not readily available in our school to use.

By the end of the 2011-12 school year, all teachers had used the ipads in their classrooms from simple applications to more complicated projects using Keynote and inspiration.  Junior High teachers also noted that some students had purchased their own personal ipad.  Whether this had a connection to what they were doing in school or a desire to have a new technology tool at their own personal disposal was something teachers readily observed.  We also had additional monies at the end of the year to purchase technology items.  Two ipads were purchased specifically for the Resource department and each teacher received a teacher ipad to use.  Our principal believed this was necessary so teachers had their own devices to practice and become familiar with.  In order to gain confidence, teachers need their own device to explore and become confident users.

Current 2012-2013 School Year:

This year Westbrook has undergone some staffing changes.  Two new staff members were hired to replace teachers who moved to other schools.   Classroom teachers at the Junior High level had new subjects to plan and teach and there were adjustments made to one teacher’s FTE making her full-time at the Junior High level.  These changes are mentioned as factors that affect the use, growth and implentation of technology tools.

The ipad cart is being used regularly by a majority of teachers and like the mac cart is in high demand at various times.   Teachers across all disciplines have implemented the ipad cart within their classrooms for a variety of learning opportunities.  Many teachers are finding new apps that they have added to the ipad cart to benefit their students and that of the whole school.  Ibooks, including the audio version of a classroom novel study have been implemented and key features of filming, recording, and multi-media presentations are regularly part of classroom assignments.  Some students in the Junior High level also use the ipad as their agenda and regularly have homework emailed sent from their personal devices.  Students with their own devices regularly request to use their ipad to do classroom work on it.

What has Worked:

-Teacher initiative to learn and practice this tool to develop an awareness of the ipad capabilities and multiple learning opportunities for all students.

-Increased student engagement using the ipad tool to show learning in the classroom at all grade levels.

-Increased opportunities for teachers to provide multiple ways of differentiation in the classroom  particularly with multi-level, split grades.

-FSL apps including google translate have offered increased learning pathways for students

-Audio capabilities to support literacy and reading comprehension for all students especially our Resource students and those on Accommodated Plans.

-Multi-media presentations in Science, Social and Language Arts Classes:  Key Note, Inspiration, imovie, iphoto, igraphic  novel, garage band, comic life, search design

-A variety of  apps have offered a variety of literacy support apps to struggling readers in elementary grades and within the Early Literacy program

-Increased collaborative student work, class work and sharing particularly using mirroring


-Provide additional technology  support on a regular basis.  Westbrook staff is brand new to the technology and we require further expertise to support our learning, maintenance of the tool, and regular ongoing assistance.

-Provide time for teachers to collaborate across disciplines and across schools.  At small rural schools, there are multiple challenges with time, resources, and meaningful collaboration.  Additional funding could be used to support teacher professional growth with this technology.

-Provide mentorship opportunities with expertise within Rocky View Schools: In the past Westbrook had mentorship with the mac computer that provided one-to-one learning and expedited teacher understanding and use of the mac computer.

Potential Sources of Data:

*Conversations with Teachers

*Student assignments

*Student work

*video (student reflections on the ipad in the classroom)


***Please note these sources of data are still being developed as part of this progress report.

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