Students receive iPads as part of Project Based Learning


English Teacher Sara Hinson is part of a Project Based group of teachers that recently began using iPads in the classroom for instruction. (Mardenis Rodriguez photo)

With Project Based Learning at the core of Duncanville ISD’s vision for every learner, 30 freshman students were recently issued iPads for use both in the classroom and outside.

“A well structured and maintained PBL allows students to dig deeper than many traditionally structured lessons,” Design Coach Devin Hanes said. “Students get to ask and research their own questions about a topic instead of all the questions and answers being fed to them.”

This freshman group is the  first to participate in the program. The devices can be used to word process, access internet, and run a variety of “apps” that enhance the educational process. Teachers will communicate with students via school email and will distribute many assignments and documents electronically. Freshman teacher Sara Hinson said the implementation of iPads in the classroom is something students can relate to.

“I feel that students are more comfortable with technology that they can interact with,” Hinson said.  “This in turn makes learning easier and faster.”

Hinson said she  hopes the implementation of such technology spreads throughout the curriculums in all grade levels and not just selected classes.

“The availability of apps is astonishing for all preps,” Hinson said. “I am just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to all the bells and whistles available via the ipad.”

With a significant investment in educational technology and infrastructure, the children will be trained to utilize technology as a tool and resource in order to enhance their learning. Students say they enjoy being able to work with the devices both in and out of the classroom.

“The use of iPads is an effective way for kids to learn,” freshman John McWilliams said. “I wish we could use these in all of our classes on campus.”

The students are able to download different “apps” to help them during their learning process and set up a Duncanville ISD email account, free iTunes account and an Apple ID with their email. The students can then use tools on the iPads to bring their learning to life.

“We create summaries, PowerPoints, Prezi’s, and we use Google Docs,” Hinson said. “We use pretty much everything that there is virtually.”

Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction Sandro Garcia said  the Ipad implimentation is another step in ensuring that the students have the resources and skills to engage in profound learning.

“We are excited to see students and teachers working with iPads in the PBL classrooms,” Garcia said.  “We hope to build a solid foundation this year as we pilot instructional activities and learn new ways to utilize this device in instruction.”

Design Coach Devin Hanes said through Project Based Learning (PBL), teachers are being challenged to shift thoughts and efforts from delivering packaged knowledge to facilitating students to seek out answers to authenic problems and situations.

“A well structured and maintained PBL allows students to dig deeper than many traditionally structured lessons,” Hanes said.  “Through a little hard work, careful planning and creative innovation both students and teachers are rising to the challenge.”

See more photos from iPad issue below: