On November 20th, Burlington High School hosted 75 educators from New England in a tour of our 1:1 technology program. I was an ambassador for the school, the students, and for the ways in which we have innovated at Burlington High. For years we have been an Apple Distinguished high school, and I am proud to have demonstrated why that is.
After speaking with the group of educators, I led a tour through classrooms in order to witness the ways in which different subjects utilized technology. While I spoke with my group about the advantages of integrating technology into the curriculum, the most effective way I found to communicate our innovation was by watching. Technology such as the iPad changes the way in which students access information, and therefore is a very powerful tool to witness in action. As we watched the lab students in biology follow along eagerly with their lesson, my guests were able to see effective note taking in action. Apps such as Notability and Google Drive were taking written, pictorial, and auditory notes. With apps such as these, studying becomes more lively and interactive. Students can go home and re listen to a lesson, comprehend an idea through a photo, and understand content by personalized note-taking strategies.
Continuing on, we watched presentations come to life via ShowMe and PuppetPals2. ShowMe is a whiteboard app that allows the user to draw pictures while recording their voice. PuppetPalls2 is an animation app that allows students to embed their voice into a “puppet-show”. Apps that foster creativity are more engaging for all students. Projects become adventures which students cannot wait to share. The app store is home to thousands of presentation apps, and explaining content has never been more exciting. Creativity is the key in the learning anything, especially language. Language learning eagerly welcomes innovation and student passion, as it leads to richer content understanding. As an after-school Spanish educator, I use technology in everything I do. My group was especially interested in the ways in which I integrate technology as a student educator and as a student leader. I explained that in our lessons, we would use the iPad to take notes that students would then save on a cloud. Cloud storage allows users to access notes from any device in any place. Later we would make digital photo-flashcards to associate photo memory and vocabulary. Immediately following our lessons, students would connect with me on ShowMe where I would make video and audio lessons reviewing our discussions. This allows students to go back and rewatch lessons in which they need extra help. I recommend using ShowMe and its networking feature in all classes, especially language-based courses. Apps such as these, as well as many others, can be used in a variety of courses. The English department focusses on digital annotations, using apps such as iBooks. Math classes experiment with various digital calculators and graphing tools. Educators also got a look at how we use Google Classroom to distribute, collaborate, and submit work in an organized and efficient manner.
Our guests had some concerns regarding digital citizenship, distractions in the classroom, and the main outcome of iPad integration. Regarding digital citizenship, Burlington Public Schools does an amazing job preparing students as leaders and models for leaving positive digital footprints. Prior to my 1:1 experience at Burlington High School, I did not know what digital citizenship was, nor its effects on my professional image. I never imagined the impact a 140 character tweet had on my post-secondary opportunities. After entering Burlington High School, especially after enrolling in Help Desk, I have become more aware of digital interactions and what it means to post online. Help Desk students are primary examples for their peers, displaying how to engage via social media in a positive and respectful way. It is a privilege to have this knowledge of citizenship in my exploratory years online. The knowledge we as Help Desk students learn is passed by example to the Burlington community, ultimately distinguishing ourselves as a positive environment. Addressing the concern of distractions in the classroom, I responded that distractions would exist with or without the iPads, yet what Burlington educators practice is redirecting those distractions. The amount of students playing games on their iPads has decreased over time, as they realize the amount of resources they could be viewing, revenant to their subject area. Directing students toward those opportunities beyond the textbook allows them to channel their distractions into relevant education. This idea coincides with my perception of BHS’s 1:1 integration outcome: increased student motivation. By providing students with devices that connect them on a local and global scale, the excitement to explore is overwhelming. With an app store home to thousands of presentation apps, students can produce work that is consistently relevant, and consistently innovative. Research and knowledge now exists beyond the classroom, and is accessible by all students. They are eager to focus their attention on further readings, advanced courses, and intense programming.
Engaging with these administrators was a remarkable experience. I was able to educate a group on subject matter I am enthusiastic about, while personally advocating for the spread of effective education methods. I have never felt greater joy than introducing something I am passionate about and having it be encouraged and admired by so many others.