The school year may be more than two weeks off, but there was a lot of teaching going on at Assabet Valley Tech last week. It’s the school’s teachers, though, who were doing the learning.
Assabet Valley Tech is the only school in Massachusetts and one of just 12 in the country to be named a Verizon Innovative Learning School. The school’s science department receives a $40,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation for professional development on iPads and their many unique applications that students can use for learning.
Last week, eight science teachers completed three days of iPad training taught by the International Society for Technology in Education.
“We always try and find new ways to stimulate kids,” said science teacher Alexia Forhan, who was chosen as the technology coach for the Verizon project. “This is getting them to harness technology they already have.”
The range of possibilities for learning on an iPad is wide, teachers found in their training. Applications include iCell, where students can look at a 3D view of a cell. Gaming tools can teach students biology standards for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam. Students can create DNA models online. Teachers can ask a poll question based on what students just learned to see how well they grasped the lesson.
“It’s so hands-on and fun. It’s a real exciting way of teaching science,” Forhan said. “Hopefully we’ll keep kids in the field and get more kids in the field.”
Assabet Valley Tech has two science classroom sets of 25 iPads.
“There are many innovative ways to use mobile devices to drive interest and engagement among students and we believe technology is the solution that can play a role in making that connection,” said Verizon spokesman Phil Santoro.
Verizon sent out a request for proposal in 12 states and selected one school from each state.
“(Assabet) is a very innovative school with some terrific teachers focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education,” Santoro said.
Verizon piloted this program last year in select schools.
“We believe that our long term growth and success is tied to addressing some of society’s biggest issues and we want to do our part to help students achieve,” Santoro said. “Our company and our industry depend on a highly-educated, technology-based workforce.”
Forhan is excited that the professional development is ongoing. Throughout the year, teachers can talk about what applications work and continue to learn.
“It’s really exciting how all this will play out,” Forhan said. “I feel blessed to have it.”