From Pre-K to High School, Students Consistently Work with a Variety of Technology Tools to Expand Learning Opportunities
SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (March 17, 2016) – This year, students in a South Pasadena Unified School District (SPUSD) fourth grade class will build miniature cars with the hopes of simulating collisions as part of a science lesson. To examine the results more closely, the students will videotape the reaction using the SloPro iPad application and will be able to observe the action at a fraction of the original speed. With the ability to record their results on classroom laptops, students will share a summary with their teacher, who will then be able to respond quickly with follow-up questions or to share the results with the whole class on an interactive whiteboard. Technology is a part of learning in SPUSD classrooms, and this experience is just one example of how technology tools can help bring students’ science lessons to life.
In the past two years, SPUSD, with the support of South Pasadena Educational Foundation (SPEF) and school PTAs, has implemented a District-wide technology improvement program equipping students and teachers with various types of technology in the classroom. From portable carts of iPads to laptops to programmable robots to 3-D printers, student access to technology is at an all-time high. Last year, SPUSD hired David Speck, as the Technology Integration Coach, who helps oversee technology planning for students and professional development and training for teachers on the new equipment and software.
“The addition of iPads and laptops along with other new types of technology in the classrooms has transformed teaching and learning in all disciplines,” said David Speck, SPUSD Technology Integration Coach. “These tools give students greater access to programs that allow them to communicate and collaborate with one another, as well as think critically and creatively.”
Each elementary school has a cart of iPads to assist with curriculum such as Project Lead the Way STEM lessons. District-wide, classrooms in grades three through five are equipped with a laptop cart. At SPMS, a newly configured computer/engineering lab contains an interactive whiteboard and a 3-D printer for the students studying robotics and currently participating in the STEM rotation as part of their elective courses. At the secondary level, students use laptops in their English and Science classrooms in addition to the computers and software used in the Computer Science pathway classes and the media center. Having access to computers also allows teachers to prepare for and administer assessments – like the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) testing – in their classrooms on devices that the students have already spent time using. Teachers also are equipped with various technology tools such as personal computers, LCD projectors, document cameras and interactive whiteboards to assist with teaching.
In addition to the hardware, the District as a whole implemented Google Apps for Education (GAFE) including Google Docs, Forms, Sheets and Slides. Teachers can create virtual classrooms and sites where they share resources, information and planning tools with students. GAFE is a web-based program enabling students to access school projects and documents from any computer using secure login information. GAFE is just one example of the types of programs teachers creatively use to extend student learning.
“We see many teachers using laptops to assist with differentiation within the classroom and to extend project-based learning,” added Speck. “For example, the Think Central website – part of our Common Core aligned elementary math curriculum – gives students access to their textbook, interactive manipulatives as well as games that reinforce key math concepts. Teachers are able to track student progress and make recommendations for supplemental instructional materials or collaboration based upon the student’s progress.”
Staying aligned with the District’s strategic goal to offer state of the art curriculum and instruction, this type of technology innovation advances the four Cs -- communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. Costs associated with technology advances are supported through local and state funding. SPEF and each of the school PTAs consistently provide much-needed support for items such as the wireless network, iPad carts and Project Lead the Way supplies. In addition, the District uses one-time discretionary funds from the state’s annual budget to purchase items such as Chromebooks, document cameras, projectors and printers.
Annually, students and parents sign technology use agreements to ensure that devices and programs are being used in the intended fashion. Managed by District officials, student data, work and sharing privileges remain within SPUSD, and privacy settings are controlled by the District’s technology staff. The entire program is continuously reviewed and improved by the District’s technology team and is supported and guided by the SPUSD Educational Technology Committee comprised of parents, teachers and administrators. Challenged to develop a K-12 technology scope and sequence plan in addition to a cyber-safety curriculum, the committee has been meeting monthly to work on developing strategies for the benefit of students and educators.
SPUSD students work with a variety of technology tools to enhance learning opportunities. (Photos Courtesy of South Pasadena Unified School District)
For more information, contact: Andrea Fox, South Pasadena Unified School District, firstname.lastname@example.org