Design II Showcase

Goal Area: Flexible Learning

In spring 2013, every sixth-grader at Alki Middle School received an iPad for learning. It was the beginning of the weLearn 1:1 rollout of digital tools to every third- through 12th-grade student in the district. This year at Alki, every student and teacher is using an iPad.

“Over the past few years we have been heavily engaged in the flexible learning initiative,” said Curtis Smith, principal at Alki, during a Design II presentation at the March 25, 2014, board meeting. “The iPad is a powerful tool, but the iPads are only as powerful as the teachers who have them, so professional development has been key in the process.”

Smith introduced Carolyn Conners, a teacher at Alki who spoke about the impact of one-to-one devices. “Carolyn is an exemplary teacher. She is outstanding in designing and implementing lessons that integrate the iPad into instruction, demonstrations of learning, student collaboration, and assessment.”

“I have seen dramatic changes in my classroom during the year that I’ve had the iPads,” said Conners, running a multimedia presentation from her iPad. “The iPads have changed student organization, communication, collaboration and creativity.”

Applications (apps) such as GoodNotes, Online Planner and Reminders help students stay organized. The use of iPads also has cut down on paper usage by teachers and student backpacks full of notebooks. Students also have more ownership because they can access their assignments anywhere at any time, check their progress and grades via Skyward Student Access and email their teachers and classmates.

“One student told me that she can keep better track of her assignments,” said Conners. “Students no longer have the ability to lose their homework. The online planner puts control in the students’ hands versus with me as the teacher.”

Differentiated instruction is improved because Conners can immediately find apps that will help individual students with specific needs. In addition, the ability to create and express ideas and learning in a variety of ways using apps such as iMovie increases student ownership and engagement.

“Now that I am using iPads, I use them every single day. I’m convinced of the impact that they have on student learning, engagement and ownership. It continues to challenge the way that I’m teaching, how I approach instruction, and how my students are learning,” concluded Conners.

Alki is one of four district schools that have implemented one-to-one technology schoolwide. McLoughlin Middle School, Vancouver Flex Academy at Lewis and Clark High School, Fir Grove and iTech Preparatory are using devices this year, too. Teachers at Discovery, Gaiser, Jason Lee and Jefferson middle schools also have devices and are receiving professional development for schoolwide implementation next year.