SPECIAL TO THE FLASH
Editor’s note: Following is a first-person account of the iChampion digital learning initiative at Stephenville ISD from Brianna Hodges, the district’s digital learning specialist. It was shared in a press release from SISD Superintendent Matt Underwood Wednesday evening.
Students at Hook Elementary have been using iPads as a part of their learning experience for the past 4 weeks. Leveling the playing field of availability and access to student devices was an immediate win, but more importantly, teachers are seeing their students become iChampions of their content. “My students struggle with written expression of math problems, “ explains Hook teacher Kris Petit. “Using pencil and paper, they would stare at the problem and guess at the steps. Since bringing the iPads into the classroom, we’ve started using an app called DoodleBuddy. It let’s them draw shapes to represent the numbers. They count out the objects and draw Xs over them to representing subtraction; then recount to solve the equation. Seeing my students finally “get it” is so rewarding!”
Brenda Perez, a Hook 3rd Grade Bilingual teacher, is using a variety of apps to help connect and transfer language skills. “We’ve used an annotation app called Skitch to highlight key sentence elements of texts. It’s really important for my students to understand how the parts of speech work together within a sentence. They use the different colors from the highlight tool to identify the elements. Then, using the sentence as a model, they can write their own sentences with the pen tool and then add an illustration as a reinforcement.”
Teachers aren’t the only ones noticing. Luke Wilson is a 4th grader in Kelly Montieth’s reading class. “The iPads help us in class by helping us show our strategies.” Mrs. Montieth’s classes use the iPad’s built-in camera and video capabilities to explain and demonstrate their understanding. They have retold stories in their own words, defended their answer choices, and used them as thought-catchers for explaining their strategies.
Superintendent Matt Underwood is quick to point out that iChampion is more than simply putting devices in kids’ hands. “By integrating technology into our pedagogy and content delivery, we are able to personalize the learning experience and add a 21st Century relevance for today’s students.”
And we’re still early in the game, folks. iChampion is set be a game-changer for SISD.