Frenship middle schools use iPads to reach students

By Karen Michael
A-J Media

The quiet at the beginning of Colby Sharp’s class at Terra Vista Middle School was eerie.
He had told students in a quiet voice to get an iPad and start a video as they came in the door. Three minutes into class, students wearing headphones and earbuds were fully (and quietly!) engaged in a Bill Nye video on plate tectonics.
Couldn’t they watch a video all together on an overhead screen?
Yes, Sharp said, but allowing them to watch at their desks increases their engagement and allows them to stop and reverse if they didn’t understand something.
He doesn’t always start classes with iPads, but when he does, students can start immediately because he has a QR code on the board. Students can hold their iPads up and scan the QR code and the video automatically loads.
Students in Sharp’s class also use the iPads to make videos for class projects, he said.
Sharp is just one of many teachers using iPads in Frenship.
Frenship middle school science and math teachers all have received a classroom set this semester, while other teachers have purchased a few through their budgets.
Nearby in the seventh-grade hall, Sarah Burleson said she uses an app called Schoology, a learning management system, with her science students. She posts links, assignments and quizzes through the app.
“Just today, they took a little six-question quiz, so they got instant feedback. They knew right away what they got right, what they got wrong,” Burleson said.
She has also had her students create graphics to show what they learned, allowing them to display their level of understanding rather than regurgitating definitions.
Students were more interested in completing the project, so they put more effort into it, she said. And that made it easier to grade.
“It was something different. You’re not seeing the same thing, over and over,” she said.
Sixth-grade science teacher Ashley Jameson uses Insight 360 as a classroom management system through the iPads, and she said the instant quizzes also help her.
“That gives me instant feedback to where I need to reteach, if I need to go back or if I need to go ahead and start our new concept of the day,” Jameson said.
Science has a lot of areas where she can use the
iPads with her students. She said models of the inside of the Earth and of outer space have been pivotal, since sixth-graders can’t otherwise get to those areas.
She hasn’t had to redo any lesson plans, but uses the iPads to supplement her existing plans instead, she said.
In Misty Speck’s math class, students completed math problems on their
iPads before Speck started putting the image of their answers on a screen in front of the class, and she asked students to evaluate their peers. Where did this problem go wrong? How did this student work a problem differently than you did?
It’s not just math and science teachers using iPads, though.
Wade Schumpert, a Terra Vista eighth-grade U.S. history teacher, said he uses yet another classroom management tool called Edmodo. It looks a lot like Facebook, so students like it, he said.
Edmodo is both a website and an app, he said, so students with Net access can use it at home. This has allowed him to partially “flip” his classroom, assigning videos and powerpoints of notes as homework, while students work on projects in class.
But he said since some students don’t have Internet access, he also allows class time to do those activities.
At Frenship Heritage Middle School, even the band students are using iPads in class.
Band director David Biel said using iPad minis with headphones allows students to move at their own pace. When he checks out the iPad cart, he can get all of his students working on a particular skill. Once they master it, they can move on. But if they are having difficulty, they can take more time.
He intends to start making assignments to students to watch certain short videos or go through a lesson through their computer or iPad at home. Those who don’t have home Net access can complete the assignment in the bandroom after school.
The students can also use a tuning app to check their tuning, Biel said. Another program will even tell students when they played a wrong note and how to fix it.
But one of his favorite music apps has been one that allows him to put music up onto a screen behind him and show students where they are having a problem by circling the offending notes with his finger on an iPad. When he doesn’t use the app, he has to tell students which measure and which beat to go to before they see the problem, he said.
“This has been the best teaching tool I’ve ever had,” he said. “It just saves a lot of time.”
At some point in the future, he said, he would love to have all of the students’ music on iPads, something he said professional musicians are already doing.
“I’m not about, it all has to be digital. In a lot of ways, paper is easier,” Biel said. “But sometimes, it’s much easier if they have an iPad.”

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