Many smaller school districts, like Community R-VI, face big challenges every year in trying to staff teachers with the certifications required to teach specialty classes like Chemistry.
This forces schools to be creative to ensure their students are getting the classes necessary to help them continue their education in college.
During the 2015-2016 school year, the Community R-VI School District is having its students taught by a teacher via ITV with the assistance of iPads from 1-3 p.m.
High School Chemistry teacher Lisa Grotewiel connects with students by ITV with Community R-VI students every day from her provided classroom at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo.
She said the room and the ITV equipment have been rented at a reasonable rate.
She’s taught Chemistry for more than 10 yards and was looking for a change when she came across the opportunity to mix the ITV experience with iPads.
Every two weeks, Grotewiel drives more than four hours to Laddonia to do lab work with the students.
“It’s a paperless class room as I give the instructions with the iPads and that’s been fun and a welcomed change for me,” Grotewiel said. “And I think it’s a huge key for the success of the class.”
As for the iPads, she said the students and her can draw on them, use diagrams, and work out complex problems together.
“It’s a lot better than email and it’s really amazing how instant it is,” she added on students submitting items to her. “…I’m grateful to the district, Emma, and everyone who has helped to get this set up. I just really have to compliment the district for taking this class because of the shortage of chemistry teachers, you have to try something. I just think it’s really courageous to do that and all the technology support is key to making it successful.”
“It was a need for that class and it’s worked very nicely,” said Community R-VI Technology Coordinator Emma Jaccarino.
Teacher Becky McCurdy, who is the business and Algebra I instructor, was tasked to help get the iPads ready for the students to use. She said she has a management system that allows her to put apps in bulk on the devices.
She’s also trained teachers on how to use the devices and so there is a consistent approach in using them with the same apps used, etc. as the iPads are being used for more than just the Chemistry class. Some programs include Notability, Showbie, Near Pod, among others. McCurdy said each student has an iPad assigned to them, as they were distributed during the second week of the school year.
Each student paid $20 in insurance to use the device. Students can take them home daily and will return them at the end of the school year.
The district has taken steps to make sure students are using the iPads correctly.
Monitoring software is used to see if students are not using the device the way they should.
“A couple of kids have already been taken to the principal’s office,” Jaccarino noted.
Jaccarino said the use of iPads in the district has been a work in progress that started five to six years ago.
Eighteen iPads are being used for the Chemistry class as the district needed these units after 30-35 were purchased last year with the help of a Monsanto grant.
Funding during last year was provided through a Monsanto grant, and more recently, funding has been made available through the French Foundation and school funding.
The cost for the iPad AR2 is about $345-$349 on Amazon.
Jaccarino said the iPads should be good for a long time as the educational vendors have not upgraded the product.
She said the goal is to purchase 30-35 iPads per year.