Published 10/6/2012 in Local News By Rachael GrayBy RACHAEL GRAY
Becky Malewitz/Telegram GCHS students study their Anatomy notes before taking a test Friday morning.
Becky Malewitz/Telegram GCHS juniors Kayla Doll and Taryn Tempel study their Anatomy class notes before taking a test Friday morning.
So the 16-year-old junior sat in a sitting area of the Public Service Academy, pulled out her iPad, and worked on some online college classes she’s taking.
The device in her hand made it possible to work on both her high school classes and colleges classes simultaneously, without going into a computer lab or pulling out different notes and books.
The iPad device, which went into the hands of all GCHS students in September, is changing the way students learn, teachers instruct and the way in which students and teachers interact.
That’s true for Christina Weltmer, anatomy/physiology/biology teacher at GCHS.
Weltmer wasn’t too familiar with Notability, a popular app for note taking. But students taught her the features and how to use it.
“Students are teaching teachers, and teachers are teaching students. It builds a really strong bond,” she said.
Weltmer said she’s enjoying using iPads in her classroom.
“I don’t want to go back to teaching without it,” she said.
The USD 457 Board of Education approved the 1-to-1 iPad initiative in April by a 5-2 vote. Parents or students pay a $40 insurance fee for the devices.
Casey Wise, instructional technologist, said parents were given the choice of making one or two payments if there was a financial issue, but there is no discount.
Rick Atha, USD 457 superintendent, has said the money to fund the iPads for the first year will come out of bond money saved by the new high school.
Technology administrators said in April that the initiative’s cost will be lower than previously reported. The district is using iPad 2 instead of the latest “new iPad,” which will save about $170,000 of the original cost reported to the board.
The previously discussed cost was $1,042,937.64. Using the iPad 2 instead, which technology administrators say is a fine device for student use, the district will spend $872,084.28.
In the second and third years, the money will come out of the supplemental general fund, Atha has said. The cost for the second and third year to the district will be $452,577.14 and $349,600, respectively.
Individual cost for each iPad is $379, plus $19 for the case and $15 for the apps.
Adam Cassellius, GCHS history teacher, said the devices are enhancing his teaching and the students’ learning.
“It’s a dream come true. ... It’s everything I wanted to be able to do in this technological age,” he said.
Cassellius said anything a student does on paper, he also can do on an iPad.
Friday morning, students in his world history class looked at maps of countries to review the origins and spread of religions.
“They’re learning the material. It’s interesting to them,” he said.
Cassellius said students are remembering the iPads, and most are abiding by the rules so they don’t get them taken during the class period.
Cassellius has the students double-click the device’s Home button to show at the bottom of the screen which apps are open. He has students close all of the apps and just open the ones that are used during class.
“If they have anything else open, I can take the iPad. It’s like taking a small piece of their soul. They want to keep their iPads,” Cassellius said.
Robles admits she’s not always working on school-related tasks during class time.
“I play games when I’m bored,” she said.
Robles likes The Sims games, which simulate real life.
She said it helps the school periods go by quicker when she can play games.
“When I have free time, I can pull it out and play games,” she said.
She also uses the device to socialize and message friends using iMessage.
Sometimes she does schoolwork, plays games and messages friends simultaneously.
“I do multitask,” she said.
During school, she’s using the device to take and organize notes.
One hiccup she sees is seeing restrictions on sites when researching. “Some websites are blocked due to security,” she said.
Under the school’s iPad policy, students use the browser Lightspeed, which automatically blocks restricted sites.
Students also have a list of blacklisted apps. Those apps are blocked due to using too much bandwidth, or because of content, according to Layne Schiffelbien, instructional technology coordinator.
“All of the apps they can use are for 17 years or younger,” she said. Rene Scott, associate principal in the Academy of Trade and Health Science, was part of the pilot group for iPads. She said most of the teachers she oversees in the Academy of Trade and Health Science Academy are using the iPads. Scott does see some of the restrictions being rigid for students and teachers.
“This is something new. We have to have control to start with. It has to start off tight, then can loosen up as students know expectations. It’s just like discipline,” she said.
Scott does see the positives of the iPad. She sees more students engaged and taking ownership in their learning. One student in her academy downloaded the GarageBand app at home, wrote a song and recorded it on his own.
“That’s writing, reading and creativity,” she said.
Scott also said students who are sick are making up more assignments because they can communicate better through email and receive assignments electronically.
“More assignments are being turned in from absent students,” she said.
Scott said that with anything new, there are issues and obstacles.
Some teachers were hesitant about using the iPads, but most are trying, Scott said.
Schiffelbein said the teacher effort is about where she thought it would be at the beginning of the school year. The student discipline, engagement and iPad utility has exceeded tech staff expectations, Schiffelbein said.
There have been a few issues with students downloading blacklisted apps. When a student does that, the student is kicked off the network and then must report to tech staff to get back online. Repeat offenders may have certain privileges taken away and may have tighter restrictions, Schiffelbein said.
Teachers like Shelby McNutt, broadcasting instructor, have been concerned with network issues.
“But they’re working through those management issues,” he said.
Schiffelbein said network issues have been minimal, but students are forgetting their passwords to E-Backpack, a way to store, discuss, share, turn in, and collaborate on files and assignments, or digital locker that provides workflow for the iPad.
Schiffelbein also addressed public concerns about what happens in the case of lost or stolen iPads, and worries about the devices being a distraction.
“The students are engaged between classes, before school and in their free time. Classrooms are a lot quieter,” she said.
Scott said anything in a classroom can disrupt learning, or be a distraction.
“It just depends what the students have access to,” she said.
As for the lost or stolen iPads, the few lost iPads in the school have been recovered and one has been stolen.
Schiffelbein said a student had been arrested and the officers performing the arrest told the student to lock up his truck. When the student later returned to his truck, it had been broken into and his backpack, with the iPad in it, had been stolen.
Schiffelbein said police have not said whether the iPad has been recovered, and the school cannot track the iPad because it’s been turned off. If the iPad is turned on and used and hits a Wi--Fi network, the district can locate it.
Four or five iPads have been damaged, and those include minor damages that can be fixed, Schiffelbein said.
Edgar Montoya, 18, a senior, said the devices are good tools for school.
“I think they’re great and helpful when they are used right,” he said.
Montoya uses his iPad in algebra.
“At times it can be a bit distracting, but I think they’re good,” he said.
Friday in Weltmer’s class, Allison Doll, 17, a junior, reviewed her notes for a test.
Doll’s notes were yellow, pink and purple, some handwritten on the iPad with her finger, and other parts typed.
Doll said the device keeps her organized and engaged.
“I like being able to carry all of my notes with me in this instead of digging around in my bag trying to find the right ones,” she said.
Found 16 comment(s)!
privacy not an issue
if the ipads are being used as they were intended (school use only) then privacy would not be an issue
Posted by: another taxpayer on 10/18/2012
missed the bus
Everytime I read about or hear about this Ipad program, I LITERALLY shake my head in disbelief! I understand that "times change" much as they have since I was in school but I am really flabbergasted at the fact that a school.... a teaching/learning place now a days has to depend on/use such "toys" in order for kids to learn now a days?? Whatever happened to taking notes in class by hand? It made you think about it as you took the notes, made for better retention of the material. What ever became of doing research wherever you had to get your information from such as the library? Yes we have the internet today, and I agree it has a great source of information there so why not make our kids DO a little work on their own and use skills (such as memory, problem solving etc) to learn? And THEN for some of the parents to actually WHINE about what their kids can't do on these things makes me keep shaking my head! All this sounds like to me is like everyone is passing the buck to avoid having to deal with the kids one on one like in "the olden days" from the parents on down to the teachers.
Posted by: shaking my head on 10/18/2012
re: Informed Parent
These iPads are SCHOOL OWNED. Just because they are paid for with taxes doesn't mean you get ownership rights over them any more than you do with a cop car that was paid for with taxes. By your rather shaky logic any taxpayer should be able to jump in a patrol car and take it for a spin. Actually your logic's even shakier than that since few, if any, high school students pay property taxes yet.
A blacklist with 40 apps is very minimal. I've seen coporate ipads with whitelists smaller that that (meaning that the users could only install those apps). So your kids can't use 40 of the thousands of apps because they are either inappropriate, or the kids as a group have proven that they can't behave reaponsibly with them (messaging apps for instance), or, as is the case with most of them, consume so much bandwidth that the districts network would buckle under the strain. Big deal. That's a very, very permissive policy as far as non-personal mobile devices go.
And privacy, again, does not exist on school owned devices. Student emails have always been monitored, as are staff emails in the district and anywhere else where employees are given email accounts. These things are tools given to our kids to help them learn, not toys given to them to play with as they wish.
Posted by: Informed resident on 10/17/2012
By minimal restrictions, does "Informed resident" mean the 40 or so apps that have already been blocked by the district? Or does he/she mean the fact that a technology person can take away a student's iPad anytime they feel like it without reason? Last I checked, the money for those iPads came from taxpayers and should be used freely by taxpayers (i.e. our kids). Lastly, if "reasonable expectation of privacy" doesn't exist for our kids, then maybe they shouldn't be forced to use their iPads at school. Make the iPads optional so we can choose whether or not we want our children's privacy violated by certain individuals.
Posted by: Informed Parent on 10/16/2012
Reasonable expectation of privacy doesn't exist on any school device. Or, for that matter, on any corporate owned device. It never has and can't unless the district is willing to give up a massive amount of federal funding. You all complain about the district's mil levy now (which, by the way, is a lot lower than it would have to be just to keep our schools open were it not for some excellent work by certain people at the ESC), but just imagine what it would be if they had to give up 7 or 8 digits of funding just to appease some parents who think their kids should have privacy on a device owned by the school.
And if you think the minimal restrictions on the school iPads is bad find someone who was issued one for work (yes there are such people even here in Garden) and look at what they can do with thiers. You'll see that the kids are given a very long leash indeed.
Posted by: Informed resident on 10/15/2012
I think it's really creepy how Schiffelbein and Wise can view everything on our kids' iPads. How much control can one person have at USD #457? Our kids should have a reasonable expectation of privacy, but that isn't happening. And yet, that is just another thing that wasn't said when all this iPad business was being discussed last year.
Posted by: Upset Parent on 10/11/2012
This is why I moved
I just find it funny that so many parents are surprised the board of education lied to get what they want. The Ebackpack program was crappy and didn't work long before the iPads came in and USD457 knew about that.
Posted by: FormerGC on 10/9/2012
A dim bulb finally brightens...
So this is why the 2nd entrance was scrapped...to pay for unnecessary educational toys? Not a bad job of slick manipulation by USD 457. Cancel a needed project, fill an unnecessary one, then spout safety concerns to get the first one anyway. Way to wag the dog!
Posted by: had enough on 10/8/2012
This article is nothing but damage control for USD #457. It seems as if they're trying to clean up their million dollar mistake. I have two students at GCHS, and I haven't seen them do anything productive on their iPads. In fact, their "EBackPack" program doesn't even work and nobody at the school can fix it. So tell me how they're suppose to do anything but play games if nothing else on their iPad even works??
Posted by: Angry Parent on 10/8/2012
Come on Garden City
Really Garden City it is sad that you all get on here and focus on the few things about the games and the other few problems but not the great things that were talked about. Garden City has a lot of great things going on and could be an example that many look at but not when every other citizen in this town only wants to talk about the bad. This is the future for our students. They are making video games based on standards and as the kids play the games and learn they are making the game and being engaged in something they really like and will help them. This is how kids learn this is where the world is going. You either need to change the attitude or get out of the way. Start supporting or lock yourself up in your house and keep your mouth shut.
Posted by: Citizen on 10/7/2012
Its sad taxpayer that all you got from that article is the occasional use of games during 'freetime.' You must have completely ignored the great comments and quotes from other teachers and students about the amazing things happening at that school. You really should reread that article and learn something.
Posted by: citizen on 10/7/2012
The night the approval was given to use tax $$$ for these gadgets, Ms Schiffelbein, and the BOE assured the community i-pads would be tracked, so they could be found if stolen. What happened?!? OOPS! Someone shut it off! GC you should be proud of your BOE!
Posted by: disgusted on 10/7/2012
GC taxpayers are truly magnanimous! We provide way more than education; we now provide entertainment, and help "keep the classrooms quieter"! I didn't realize that is why USD hired teachers! Unbelievable!
Posted by: sick of deception on 10/7/2012
So, we paid 874,000 for the gadgets and cases! How mush did we pay for expanding the broadband width? Interesting spin on how much was saved!
Posted by: janett on 10/7/2012
Seriously! As a taxpayer I am thrilled to know that GCHS students are bored, they message friends, and play games--all during classtime. Does anyone care? Apparently not. What about paying attention to the teacher and learning subject matter. Learning to play video games is not my idea of an appropriate use of classtime and taxpayer equipment. What a waste of taxpayer trust.
Posted by: Taxpayer on 10/6/2012
Lies, Lies, Lies!
Obviously the reporter was led around by GCHS officials and allowed to only see certain things, because this is NOT what is going on with the iPads in reality. Discipline problems are way up because of kids getting referrals for playing games. The eBackPack program is a joke because it hardly ever works. And let's not forget the way students and teachers are treated when they have problems with their iPads ... they are talked to like they're stupid!
I know all this because I actually talk to my kid and his friends about what is going on at the school. Maybe more parents should start doing that so we can get the real story instead of one GCHS and the Telegram molded into a neat little package.
Posted by: John D. on 10/6/2012