role of technology within our teaching.
After taking a look at all the options
available to today’s students, we decided any device that we embedded in the
district must be personal, mobile, and
easily accessible. We chose the iPod
touch, which would allow students to
surf the Internet and gain access to
Fortunately, the partnership with
NCVPS came with $85,000 in funding. Further support came in the way
of anonymous gift donations from
Culbreth parents, and $10,000 came
out of the school’s technology budget.
A portion of the money was set aside
for professional development.
Stage two. In September, our school
purchased iPod touches for the certified and classified staff in the school.
We feel strongly that all staff are part
of the learning community and should
have access to the tools. During the
initial PLC meetings at the start of
school, the team leaders shared with
other teachers what they had learned
from using the iPod touches. The PLC
teams then began to meet in groups
every other week to share knowledge,
ideas, and best practices about using
the iPod touches in school.
Stage five. In January, we sent letters
home asking parents if their children
owned iPod touches and whether
they would be willing to allow their
students to bring the devices to
school. About 20% of the families
agreed to do so, which significantly
reduced the cost of the program. The
school then bought iPod touches for
all the students who did not have one
of their own.
We implemented the program slowly
Stage three. In October, we launched
a pilot program with a group of sixth,
seventh, and eighth grade students
who were members of the school’s
Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) program. AVID targets
middle schoolers deemed unlikely to
consider attending a college or university. The goal of the program is to steer
these students toward college. We gave
each AVID student an iPod touch to
carry during the school day for academic and organizational purposes.
Feedback from the student group was
highly positive. One student, who is
now a high school sophomore, said,
“Having this is like having a tool in
your pocket that does 1,000 different
Stage one. During the summer, we
gave iPod touches to teacher leaders
from each of the professional learning communities (PLCs), which are
two-person grade-level teams from
the same discipline who work collaboratively to improve student learning.
There are two teams per grade.
In this first stage, the 20 teacher
leaders had approximately one month
to “play” with their iPod touches to
get an idea of what they could do
and how students could use them in
the classrooms. It was a tremendous
success. Teachers were enthusiastic
about the devices and collaborated to
produce numerous ways to integrate
them into their lessons.
Of course, we could just as easily
have handed everyone a three-ring
binder and led them step by step
through a linear workshop. But we felt
that allowing teachers to explore ideas
themselves was a more authentic and
engaging activity than reading worksheets in a binder.
Stage four. In December, we purchased
60 iPod touches and two charging carts
for each grade level. We also bought
each of the six teacher teams a $100
i Tunes card and set up accounts for
them so they could download apps. The
grade-level team members shared the
iPod touches and signed up to use them
for specific class periods.
As with any new school initiative, the
iPod touch program was not without its challenges. Before handing
out iPod touches to the students, the
school had to consider what to do in
the event of damage or loss. We decided to create a contract stating that
if a student lost or broke the device,
the family would be expected to pay
for a replacement. Fortunately, in the
first year we had no cases of lost or
damaged units. The contract also forbids students from using the devices
for cyberbullying, inappropriate Internet searches, and visiting chat rooms.
Both the student and the parent must
sign the document. (See Resources on
page 19 for a link to the contract.)
We also had to figure out how to
charge approximately 700 iPod touches a day. To address this, we purchased
charging stations and placed them
on a rolling cart that charges up to 40
iPod touches simultaneously. The devices are updated using a single laptop
wired to each iPod touch.
Students leave the iPods at school at
the end of the day and get them back
the next morning. All school iPod
touches are engraved with the school
name and a number assigned to an
individual student. Each student uses
the same iPod all year long.
Learn more about apps in
“There’s an App for This!” on page 36.