L.A. teachers give their new iPads a test drive
LAUSD instructors gather at six schools this week to train on iPads, which 31,000 students and 1,500 teachers in 47 schools will begin using this year.
By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/15FWtvF
Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino gives teacher Rhonda Marie Smith a high-five during iPad training at Roosevelt High School. (Al Seib, Los Angeles Times / August 5, 2013)
August 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m. :: Teachers returned to school Monday to work with the Apple iPads that could soon be in the hands of every student in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The hope is that the effort will revolutionize teaching and boost achievement — as well as put the district's mostly low-income, minority students on an even footing with more prosperous students who have such devices at home, at school or both.
The training that kicked off Monday is part of a $30-million, first-year program to give tablets to 31,000 students across all grade levels and about 1,500 teachers in 47 schools. In about a year, the nation's second-largest school system hopes to give iPads to all of its 600,000-plus students, at a cost of about $500 million.
Teachers are gathering at six schools this week for training. The first order of business in classroom C-103 at Roosevelt High in Boyle Heights was to get the wireless Internet running. That took about three hours, a minor setback for instructor Kim Deveaux, who was dispatched from New York City by Apple to train teachers in Los Angeles.
Deveaux had plenty to do, like explain how to turn on the machines. "And the up and down buttons on the side," she said, "that's the volume."
The L.A. Board of Education in June chose Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple as the exclusive provider of the tablets. The British firm Pearson was chosen to provide curriculum.
The district is paying $678 per device — higher than tablets cost in stores — with pre-loaded educational software. They also come with a sturdy case and a three-year warranty. The devices will be paid for through voter-approved school construction bonds.
"I am in awe that we can do this for a district like L.A.," said Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino, who stopped in C-103 to give a pep talk. "What a great way to start this new year, as I like to say, an early Christmas gift for you and your kids."
There also were pre-recorded motivational videos, including one of a student orchestra using iPads instead of musical instruments.
"Do you know how many schools would love to have an orchestra, and we can't afford to buy instruments," Aquino said encouragingly. With an iPad, he said, "look at what we can do."
In another video, a teacher identified only as Luis said he wished he'd had such tools as an iPad when he entered school not knowing English. Instructional coordinator Carla Gutierrez had to repeat his words because no one could make the volume loud enough to hear directly.
But the technical glitches didn't dampen the enthusiasm. Patti Hatashita, who teaches disabled students at Cimarron Elementary in Hawthorne, was genuinely moved by a video of a student with limited verbal skills who could communicate using an iPad.
Some of Hatashita's students have speech difficulties: "This could really help with communication and learning vocabulary."
The Apple instructor showed how the touch-screen device transcribes speech and also highlights and reads words aloud at any desired pace, with the sweep of a finger.
These are things that modern computers do, but few schools have had them, including Cimarron.
"The possibilities are limitless," said Hatashita. "Some teachers are more tech savvy than others," she admitted, as she slipped her older-model keyboard phone into her purse.
Deveaux also discussed classroom management, such as having students turn the tablets face down during lectures to avoid distraction. And when students walk around the room, they should clutch the tablets to their chest with two arms, to reduce the chances of dropping them.
The tablets will have controls so that students, for example, can't use them to buy anything online and no one, including teachers, can access iTunes.
Omar Del Cueto, a senior technology administrator, said stolen devices would be rendered inoperable. They can be reactivated only by the district.
Joe Castro, an instructor at Western Elementary in Vermont Square, said he was pleased that the district was "finally catching up.... We're teaching what is out in the real world for these kids."
All the same, he added, "We have to remember the technology does not replace the good teaching that we do."
LAUSD launches teacher training for $30M iPad project
By Barbara Jones, LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/14wlVEN
Hillcrest Elementary School teacher Charlene Tamplin gets her district supplied iPad during LAUSD teacher iPad training at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles Monday, August 5, 2013. (Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)
8/5/2013 07:32:47 PM PDT :: Updated 8:43:25 PM PDT :: There were a couple of Internet glitches, and some teachers had trouble signing on, but that didn't dampen their enthusiasm Monday as they collected the iPads that will become their primary instructional tools for the new school year in Los Angeles Unified.
At the start of a three-day training program at Roosevelt High and three other sites around the district, some 1,500 teachers from 47 schools received the state-of-the-art tablet computers they'll be using for lesson plans, class assignments, homework and tests.
"This is going to bring learning and instruction to life," said Charlene Tamplin, who teaches special education at Hillcrest Elementary in South Los
Hillcrest Elementary School teachers Hana El-Farra and Imelda Almanza during LAUSD iPad training at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles Monday, August 5, 2013. (Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News) (Hans Gutknecht)
Angeles. "We're going to be taking these kids places they've never been before.
"It's going to be magical."
The school board approved $30 million to buy 30,000 iPads for the 47 schools -- the first phase of the district's plan to equip every teacher and student with an iPad by this time next year. The purchase of 650,000 iPads is expected to total about $500 million, with the money coming from bonds that voters approved to fund campus improvements and technology.
The iPads come preloaded with software aligned to the Common Core, the national curriculum taking effect in 2014. Teachers spent Monday learning to navigate the tablet computers and will be trained today and Wednesday on ways to integrate technology into their classrooms. The plan calls for teachers to use the devices to teach three our four lessons during first semester and three to four comprehensive units during the second half of the year.
Oscar Jimenez, who teaches second- and third-grade English at Apple Academy in South Los Angeles, already had a good idea about the possibilities of the new instructional tool. His charter school was part of an iPad pilot project last year, and he was able to teach his students how to do online research and build websites as part of their regular coursework.
"It totally changed the way I teach, but in a good way," Jimenez said. "We brought in music and art and video. It made the kids excited to come to class."
The software was developed by Pearson Education Inc., and includes complete courses in math and English for grades pre-K through 12.
Judy Codding, the managing director of Pearson's Common Core project, said the lessons include easily update-able digital content, as well as instructional videos and games. But they're also designed to give teachers the freedom to introduce their own activities and strategies.
Nearly two-thirds of the campuses included in Phase One were chosen because they have large numbers of students who are African-American and English-learners -- two groups that were identified in a 2011 federal civil rights investigation as being shortchanged by the district in terms of academic opportunities.
About a dozen of the schools were recently built, so have upgraded wireless capability. The remaining five, like Apple Academy, are charters that are co-located on a traditional LAUSD campus. (Apple Academy is an independent charter and is not affiliated with the computer company.)
"This levels the playing field for our kids," said Elizabeth Pratt, the principal of Hillcrest Elementary, one of the Office of Civil Rights schools. "Our kids haven't had the same opportunities as students in other parts of the district, and that's social injustice. They're very excited to be part of something that is to pay off for them, forever."
Jaime Aquino, the district's deputy superintendent for instruction, said students will not get their iPads the first day of school, on Aug. 13. Instead, there will be a phased-in distribution which will include parent orientation sessions.
The tablet computers come with a heavy-duty protective case and a device that lets the district disable
Apple Academy Charter teachers Andrea Clawson and Oscar Jimenez get district supplied iPads during LAUSD iPad training at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles Monday, August 5, 2013. (Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)
the iPad if it's stolen. There are also filters to prevent objectionable material from being downloaded onto the device. In addition, the district's contract with Apple provides that the company will replace lost, stolen or damaged tablets; parents don't have to cover the cost or buy insurance.
There have been a lot of concerns raised about broadband capacity, and whether a school's wi-fi network will be able to support hundreds or thousands of students.
Omar Del Cueto, the district's director of change management, said the district's networks exceed what's being recommended by state officials overseeing technology and assessments.
In addition, about 90 percent of the material is designed to be app-based, meaning it's contained in the iPad so doesn't require Internet access to use it.
Aquino said the iPads may be seen by some as an extravagance, but he believes that the ability of students to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to compete for a job or a seat in a good college is well worth the cost.
"We talk about preparing for the '21st century workforce,' but we're 13 years into the 21st century," he said. "We're not preparing for the future. The future is now."
iPad training for 1500 teachers in LA Unified begins this week
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez | Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC | http://bit.ly/1eqbe5j
August 5th, 2013, 6:25pm :: L.A. Unified is handing out iPads to 1,500 teachers in first part of technology program. When school starts next week, 30,000 students will start using the devices.
A line of people stood in a snaking line in East Los Angeles Monday, waiting to get their hands on a new Apple device.
No, you haven't missed the news of a new iPhone. This line was outside Roosevelt High school and the people waiting were all teachers.
Two months after the Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of education voted to spend $30 million to buy iPads for every teacher and student at 47 schools, the district began training those teachers on how to use them.
"It’s so exciting for the students," said Jennifer Chang, an elementary school teacher. With the internet in their hands, there's no limit to what the students can research, she added. "The world is coming to them. It's going to make everything, I think, more efficient and faster."
The district is giving the 1,500 teachers 2 to 3 days of training, depending on the subject matter and grade. Third grade teacher Tiffany Decoursey hopes that's enough.
"I’m just hoping that the training will be of such that I can really utilize it efficiently because if you have something and you don’t know how to use it, what’s the point?" she asked before ducking into one of the training rooms with her new iPad.
As her group was getting started, L.A. Unified’s head of instruction, Jaime Aquino interrupted the Apple trainer to pump up the teachers.
"Good morning everyone," he said. When the response wasn't as rousing as he'd hoped, he tried again: "C’mon guys, are you as excited as I am? Let’s try that again. Good morning everyone!"
The tablets cost $700 a piece and come with standard iPad apps plus applications designed by education industry giant Pearson to prepare students for English and math standardized tests.
But there are glitches. The first day passwords didn't work and some of the iPads couldn't connect to the school’s server. Aquino asked teachers to be patient. He said Pearson will use their feedback to improve the product.
"There are going to be bumps and glitches, like with anything in life, don’t give up because we can work those through and I think we’re going to see a difference," he said.
When school starts in the district next week, 30,000 students will be using the iPads. The district is running numerous training sessions all over the city to get the teachers trained in time.
Expanding the program to the rest of L.A. Unified’s 640,000 students would cost half a billion dollars.
After complaints from the media, L.A. Unified opened Monday's session at Roosevelt to journalists. Aquino told the half dozen radio, television and newspaper reporters present that the program's expansion is a sure bet.
Standing nearby, school board member Monica Ratliff said that's not necessarily true.
"We’re going to have a chance, after this process, to look at what worked, what do we still need to work on before we vote on the other quarter of a billion dollars," said Ratliff, a school teacher who was elected in March.
●●smf: Thank you Boardmember Ratliff, but…. the additional cost for phases 2 and 3 (see chart, following) of the District’s' Common Core Technology Initiative (The iPads, content and training included in the Apple contract - not including network connectivity infrastructure/wi-fi servers and additional hardware, etc.) is approximately $470 million - far closer to a half billion than a quarter billion dollars!)
Aquino also made it a point to tell teachers that the devices are there to help them, not take their place.
"There's nothing like having a teacher, so this is not to replace you," he said. "So why am I excited? Because I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do for our kids under your leadership with this tool."
LA Unified staff is expected to give the school board a report in the fall on how the iPads are working in the 47 schools. Classes in the district start Tuesday of next week.
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