As part of the iPad initiative, USD 443 teachers have integrated the devices into their classroom curriculum. The district recently conducted a survey amongst teachers to see how the iPads are being used. Several teachers addressed the USD 443 Board of Education on Monday.

"I, of course, knew that many teachers find them indispensable in delivery of content, assessment, and student creation, but I didn’t expect to see such high numbers across the board," Kara Huck, secondary instructional technology coach, said. "The survey results put a definite spring into my step!"

Jane Culver, first grade teacher at Sunnyside Elementary, uses the digital portfolio "Seesaw" in her classes and showed some examples to the board. 

"It’s allowed creation within the classroom and communicates information home to parents," Culver said. "Both students and teachers can create."

The app allows students to upload photos, videos, draw, write a note or attach a link.

"All of that information goes home to be communicated with parents immediately," Culver said. "It’s also an assessment piece for me."

Sunnyside introduced the app school wide this year and principal John Montford receives weekly reports on usage so he can monitor involvement. Parents can also respond back to the postings, allowing the communication to be two-way.

Mario Martinez, the health, strength and conditioning teacher at Comanche Middle School, uses the iPad in his classes, as well. In fact, Martinez is one of the 60 percent of teachers surveyed who say they use the iPads on a daily basis.

"I teach the three foundation movements for weightlifting and created three rubrics," Martinez said. "The kids record each other so they can look at form. Then, over time, they can see how they have progressed and grown."

"Shark Tank" is a television show that offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to sell products or services. Paul Stoda, math teacher at Dodge City High School, uses the show and the iPads to teach calculus.

"All these kids are so much more advanced on technology than I am," Stoda said. "Kara [Huck] introduced me to ‘Screencast,’ so I could incorporate the show into my lesson plans."

Stoda has students watch "Shark Tank" and select a product. They then act as the experts on the show and look at research and development, introduction of a product, exponential growth, saturation of the market, competing products and extension/increasing of the market.

"Each student presents the service or product using ‘Screencast,’" Stoda said. 

According to the survey, 45 percent of teachers use the iPads to communicate with students. 

"We’re starting a student council at Ross Elementary and I only get to see these kids one time a week," assistant principal Jayne Diaz said. "So a lot of the communication is via email so the iPads have been great for me and the kids have some of that real-world accountability."

Diaz added that the iPads are also used to differentiate and meet the individual needs of students.

"In the end, the iPads are one more educational resource that the Board of Education has provided for the students," assistant superintendent of secondary education Dr. Glenn Fortmayer said. "The survey clearly shows that they are a powerful resource that directly relates to a technological generation and teachers that have had some time with them are using them often and in highly effective ways."

In other business, assistant superintendent Tami Knedler updated the board on the Oct. 26 staff development day.

"We are going to have strategies throughout the day that are very engaging for teachers and that we can use in the classroom," Knedler said. "It’s going to be very driven by what the teacher is interested in and passionate about. We’re very excited; it’s very different than what we’ve done in the past."

Superintendent Alan Cunningham discussed the new accreditation model. 

"We’re no longer just looking at test scores; it’s more of a systems approach," Cunningham said. "It’s based on the idea that you can’t just approve test scores without building relationships with students and families."

The Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) uses "The 5 Rs" framework to assess performance in educating children. Systems rate themselves using rubrics for relationships, relevance, responsive culture and rigor. 

Part of the new assessment model calls for the formation of both a district level building leadership team (BLT) and a district level site council. Cunningham said the district is currently identifying representatives and while the BLT consists of employees, the district site council is intended to be made up of parents and community members.

"We’re lucky that we have representation from many areas within our school board," Cunningham said. "But we don’t have minority representation or that of families of second language."

What Cunningham proposed was the establishment of a district site council, comprised of the existing USD 443 Board of Education members, as well as the addition of several individuals nominated from building level site councils.

"Adding four to six more people to the site council would give us a broader representation of our students and offer demographics we don’t have covered on our school board right now," Cunningham said. "It would meet three or four times a year to discuss the 5 Rs and report to the community on the progress we’re making in each of those areas."

The board tours bond projects on Wednesday, Oct. 12 and has a noon meeting Oct. 24 at Linn Elementary School.