District 16 lead teachers boning up on iPad uses

District 16 lead teachers will be busy participating in more than 20 sessions offered this summer learning the ins and outs of iPad use in the classroom.

Denise Waalen, the district’s director of educational services, gave a digital learning initiative update in a June 26 school board work session and meeting.

The lead teachers, about 35, will help other staff members use iPads in their classroom. In an effort to expand its technology program to help students develop learning, information and communication skills, iPads will be distributed to most students in grades two through 12. Distribution of the items are scheduled to start this fall.

The iPads will be used as a tool to help schools create individualized learning environments for students and foster more inclusivity in reaching students with special needs, according to the district.

Also, the expanded program will promote equity by giving access of core academics to all students, regardless of economic status.

Lead teachers

Lead teachers in the Westwood complex are: Alyssa Olson, Doug Cox, Christy West, Lissa Golanowski, Kathleen Greene, Jennifer Furness, Lindsay Leet, Laurie Pouliot, Rupal Dave, Amanda West, Mary Barnette, Kim Franklin, Nicole Kremer, Sarah Nimlos, Brian Streitz and Andy Sowards.

Lead teachers in the primary and high schools are: Nikki Pudwill, Curtis Horton, Diane Clement, Jodi Dahler, Laura Leslie, Megan McCarthy, Erin Stalsberg, Kristen Bertschinger, Wendy Trowbridge, Lollie Jensen, Scott Wicklund, Beth Young, Sarah Crofton, Beth Wackman, Desiree Wood, Kristi Kranz and Rachel Knopik.

The lead teachers are meeting in Phase I and Phase II sessions. They will meet every other week in support sessions. They have already received their iPads. Jerelyne Nemanich, the district’s instructional technology coordinator, has met with the teachers to share ideas and listen to feedback for future decision-making.

Most of the media and technology coaches have been hired, according to Waalen.

New positions were not added for the coaching, Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg told the Life.

The coaching positions (called Technology Continuous Improvement Coaches) replace open media positions because of retirements and a resignation in recent years. The coaches will provide support to integrate technology in the classroom, notably iPads and Touches in the coming school year. The coaches will also oversee school media centers.

“This provides a great opportunity to repurpose these positions to align with our needs of today,” Ronneberg said in an e-mail to the Life.

“We feel like we really have some quality people coming into the district to help us with this initiative,” Waalen said at the work session. “Not only are they skilled with teaching and technology integration, they’re skilled in teaching and learning and having experience within the classroom.”

Learning sessions

In the learning sessions, teachers will learn how to care for their devices and explore using them.

The technology coaches are slated to work two to three days this month. They will familiarize themselves with the district, learn protocols, learn about the district’s software and how they can support teachers this summer and fall.

Teachers will learn ways to manage and use the digital devices in the classrooms. They will learn about useful applications.

In August support groups for iPad use will be held. Staff can choose what they need to work on – for example, content area, hardware or device usage, Waalen said.

The district will hold administrative sessions for principals as well. Possible uses for their iPads would be to look into data and for their building walk-throughs.

Also, SLP teachers can sign up to take summer TIES classes. TIES is a St. Paul-based education technology collaborative, which offers, among its services, professional development designed by educators for education, according to its website.

One initiative the district is looking into is Atomic Learning web support to help educators.

When teachers get stuck with technology issues during or before a lesson, they would be able to access a 30-seconds to three-minute tutorial video, helping them solve the problem, Waalen said.

“We don’t want them to have to call tech and wait for five minutes or 15 minutes to be able to go on,” Waalen said.

Waalen will update the board in August on plans for professional learning opportunities in technology for staffers throughout the year, she said.

Boardmember Jodi Ruch asked if part-time student enrollees would receive iPads.

“Our initial count included everyone,” Ronneberg said.

The district also plans to provide informational sessions for parents, along with some learning opportunities, plus resources for their own use, according to Ronneberg.

The iPads are funded from a portion of the November 2011 voter-approved Capital Projects and Technology levy. The levy raises about $1.06 million for 2012.

The devices are also paid for from reallocated curriculum resource funds.

District 16 serves about 5,100 students in Spring Lake Park and parts of Blaine and Fridley.

Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]