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Leveraging Technology to Support Learning at KCS

Emerging technologies are constantly knocking at our doors. At KCS, we strive to keep informed about these technologies, and constantly reflect on how they may enhance learning at KCS.

Tablet technology arrived approximately four years ago and within the past couple years many educators around the world have chosen iPad technology to assist them in effectively delivering curriculum. This led to the pilot of tablet technology at KCS during the 2012-13 school year at the primary level and in the Learning Centre. The pilot was launched to determine what educational value this particular device could provide to KCS students. A variety of teachers and students participated and we held numerous discussions with other schools that are currently using tablet technology.

Both the teachers and students found that the touch screen, light weight and mobility of these tablets provided simple, intuitive, flexible access to technology. They also gravitated towards the interactive features of the educational apps that provided auditory, kinesthetic as well as visual learning strategies. The iPad proved to be a very effective tool in differentiating instruction, time in which teachers structure learning environments to address the variety of learning styles, interests, and abilities found within a classroom. The students who used the iPad found it to be an effective, engaging tool that helped them learn and accomplish more in class than would otherwise be possible. For example, one student dictated his essay to Siri, which translated the speech to text. He then edited this first draft of his essay and met with his teacher to review, revise and produce a second draft. This feature of the iPad can assist students in the initial steps of the writing process and allows teachers to focus on the many stages of editing. In another example, a student used the iPad to improve her French language skills. She followed interactive exercises that her teacher set out for her to do. Upon completion, she would conference with her teacher to review the exercises and set goals for the next session. In a final example, a student was introduced to the proper techniques of writing the letters of the alphabet. Visual and verbal cues on the iPad assisted him as he practised forming the various letters. Having this assistive technology supported the teacher in delivering this lesson and allowed her to touch base with him periodically throughout the class to monitor progress.

As a result of this pilot, we decided to introduce a number of iPads on a more permanent basis during this school year, with additional iPads coming to grades 1 and 2 classrooms in September 2014.

As of this fall the Learning Centre has incorporated iPads for use with some students throughout the various grade levels. Students in the Learning Centre use Siri, the Notes app and the Dragon app in order to support the development of their writing skills. As well, the Teach Me app has been used with much success in supporting the language program for some students in our primary grades. This app allows teachers to choose specific language exercises for students based upon need and tracks the student’s progress and results. The teachers use this data to determine the best teaching and learning strategies to help students.

iPads have also been introduced in the junior and senior kindergarten classes this month. Teachers are now able to have their students use various applications that allow their students to read online books, have books read to them, record their reading, practise specific phonics, develop fine-motor skills, take photos, add narration, create diagrams, draw, etc. The child-friendly nature of iPads makes them an ideal way to leverage this assistive technology with young students. Teachers plan the use of specific applications so that they integrate with their current curriculum. Teachers also track student progress on the iPads to ensure they are being used effectively.

There are numerous educational apps for the iPad, with new ones constantly emerging. With the assistance of the Director of IT Curriculum, teachers will be actively piloting any potential apps to see if they bring any added value to the learning program.

With the launch of iPads, KCS teachers are also actively engaged in regular professional development both at KCS and offsite. They are excited about this mobile device and eager to integrate it into their classroom curriculum. Embrace Learning is a Habit that we model at KCS. The launch of iPads is one new way in which our faculty are practising this Habit. We look forward to sharing all we learn as a result in upcoming communications.

By September 2014, computer technology will be available to students and teachers in all our grades from JK-8 in various ways. We will have established iPad technology in all of our JK-2 classrooms and in our Learning Centre. Students in grades 3-8 will have laptop access as well as access to our new mobile MacBook lab for the creation of audio and/or video assignments. With this amount of access, it is amazing to think that it was only a dozen years ago that we introduced the first student laptop to KCS.

Finally, as always, we would not be at this stage of integrating new technologies without the financial support of such programs as Annual Giving. Thank you to all parents whose generous contributions this year have helped to launch our iPad program at KCS.
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