The transition to the multiple class and teacher format at Lawrence School can be difficult for some students. In recognition of this challenge, a pilot program funded by Falmouth Education Foundation (FEF) is using technology to aid organization and augment classroom learning in an effort to reduce that curve.
The grant, which financed the cost of 10 iPads and associated apps, was awarded to special education teacher Joan Tegge, who recently launched the program with an after-school training session for participating students and their parents, with additional instruction from a representative of Apple specialist iCape Solutions.
“The goal of this grant is to help students strengthen executive functioning skills as they apply to their academic performance and overall school progress,” Tegge said.
According to Tegge, executive functioning, such as the ability to manage time and space, initiate tasks, plan steps, sequence ideas, memorize facts, retain new concepts, and pay attention, does not come as easily to some students as others. As a result, they are unable to complete assignments, show up on time for class, or arrive on time for events.
The technology provides organizational tools such as a digital agenda to help them record, prioritize, and complete assignments, prepare for tests, and share their work.
Tegge demonstrated the tools within iBooks, which allow the user to highlight words or paragraphs in an eBook and make notations to enter background information about character and plot.
Using the Notability app, students are able to simultaneously take notes and audio record lectures, when permission is received from a teacher. Additionally, corresponding images can be drawn with the touch of a finger or the use of a stylus tool. Tegge underscored the benefits of doodling, which has been shown to help the learning process. The Quizlet app is a modern take on traditional flashcards and, like the other apps, offers a fun and interactive way to complete schoolwork and prepare for exams.
The program also instills responsibility, for each student signs an agreement promising to return the device at the end of the school year in the same condition as it was received.
Tegge reminded the students that a transition to the new technology would not happen immediately.
“This is going to be a process that we work through,” she said. “There will be bumps but hopefully there will be fewer bumps as we go along.”
In her estimation, Tegge believes iPads in school will become more commonplace.
“I think the further on you go in your education, the more you’re going to see these in the classroom,” she said. “It’s becoming an everyday tool.”
Additional apps will be downloaded as the year progresses, but Tegge chose to begin with a basic foundation.
“I wanted to get us started on some really important skills that you need to have in place to become the strongest student you can be,” she said.
The project will culminate with a formal review and presentation to teachers, administrators, and the district director of technology.
The Falmouth Education Foundation, founded in 2006, offers grants to teachers interested in providing students across the district with enriching educational experiences not funded within the school budget. One of the ways in which the Foundation raises these much-needed funds is through its Annual Winter Gala and Auction, which will be held on February 28, 2015, at the Coonamessett Inn. At this event, the Foundation honors Falmouth leaders whose dedication to the community and service to youth and families exemplifies the philosophy of the organization. This year, the gala will honor longtime educators Joanne and Ernie Holcomb. The event will feature a live and silent auction as well as dinner and dancing with Puffy Elvis, and tickets will be available for purchase in early January. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.falmoutheducationfnd.org.