By CHERIL VERNON
Palestine Independent School District Board of Trustees got the opportunity to “test drive” iPad minis to see how students can use them in the classroom during a curriculum and technology demonstration at the PISD board meeting Monday night.
PISD District Educational Technology Facilitator Shannon Leisure showed the board members a PISD-produced video about how technology is currently being used in the classrooms and then passed out iPad minis from the Palestine High School library to demonstrate how they work.
“We want to produce students who are 21st Century learners,” Leisure said. “We want them to use cutting-edge technology — real world technology in the classroom setting.”
Leisure noted that Fortune 500 companies are actively looking for employees who can “create, analyze and collaborate.”
During the video, PISD Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Carolyn A. Martin said students today are “digital natives,” growing up with technology from an early age, noting that they are “comfortable using technology” and learning about cutting-edge technology allows the student to become a “confident person in today’s world.”
PHS students also commented on the technology in the video on how it gives them instant access to information and allows them to travel digitally.
Leisure allowed the board members to try out a couple of the applications (apps) that are used in the classroom, such as Socrative, which can be used to make quizzes for students. The students complete the quiz on the iPad mini and the results are emailed to the teacher, providing instant grading.
For a science demonstration, Leisure let them use a QR Reader app (used to commonly scan codes on advertisements). The QR codes each represented an element from the Periodic Table of Elements.
For example, when the chlorine QR code was scanned, it takes the viewer to a YouTube video to learn more about chlorine.
“You are engaging students in technology they already know,” Leisure said.
For a demonstration of how the iPads can be used for the youngest students to improve literacy, board members saw how students can read books on the iPad minis such as in the children’s book, “The Purple Frog,” which allows the student to read the book or it will read it to them. The e-reader also will allow the reader to highlight a word to get a definition, among other functions.
Many of the apps used on the iPad are non-Internet based, which means they can be used at any time, anywhere, with or without an Internet connection.
“Right now we have 400 iPad minis at the high school that we put in carts for the classroom,” Leisure said.
Marshall said that by Sept. 1, PHS hopes to have one-to-one technology for every student at the high school. The school district is hoping to secure grant funding to provide more technology items such as the iPad mini for the other campuses in the future, Marshall said.
In other action Monday, the board:
• APPROVED summer school programs. In addition to the regular summer school classes, STAAR summer school and mandatory summer school for ESL pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, PISD will offer a summer bridge program to “jumpstart” students in their next grade of learning on each campus except for Washington Early Childhood Learning Center.
For example, a sixth grade student going to the seventh grade could get a “jump start” in seventh-grade curriculum before school starts in the fall.
• APPROVED early voting election personnel.
• APPROVED judges and alternative judges for Board of Trustees election.
• APPROVED hiring professional personnel.
• APPROVED teacher contract renewals.
• APPROVED non-renewal of one teacher’s term contract.
• APPROVED Board of Trustees self-evaluation.
• HEARD financial report.
• HEARD short update on YMCA Soccer Complex Agreement.
• HEARD Superintendent’s Report on: enrollment; end-of-year activities; update on Texas 83rd Legislative Session; Board of Trustees election update; board member training opportunities.
• APPROVED consent items including: minutes of March 25 meeting; bills paid for March; financial report; monthly investment report; tax collection report; budget amendments; and donations.
During the spotlight section of the school board meeting, the board:
• RECOGNIZED Palestine High School choir students.
• RECOGNIZED Palestine High School Band Students.
• RECOGNIZED Youth & Government Students.
• RECOGNIZED Robotics Team.
• RECOGNIZED Junior Rotarians of the Month — Hanna Diaz and William Rogers.
• RECOGNIZED PHS Students of the Month — Christina Evangelista and Willis Foley.