Warringa Park School
Look into any classroom at Warringa Park School and you’ll quickly notice that iPads are integrated across all areas of the curriculum. With almost 300 iPads in the hands of students and teachers, Warringa Park School is really close to achieving their dream of a 1-to-1 program with the device.
You would assume that so many iPads in one location would be a technician’s nightmare but according to Blake, Warringa Park School’s technician, “The devices will do me out of a job because they are so self-efficient!”
Principal Colin Schot is in hot demand with invitations for radio and newspaper interviews. According to Colin, “It is invigorating and exciting to see students who could never engage with a computer or an interactive whiteboard to attempt to open and use an app in a way that you can see they are learning.
I am excited as a Principal of a specialist school for the opportunities the iPads present to personalise learning through the amount of apps that are available. This enables all learners to become successful; to communicate; and more importantly to grow as citizens that ‘can do’ where often they are viewed as citizens that ‘can’t’.”
The special school is proud to have Dawn Hallett, a full-time iPad Coach as part of the team. Dawn organises weekly tutorials for staff dedicated to the use of iPads and the Ultranet. Teachers get together to share their tips and tricks, discuss favourite apps and boast about success stories.
Dawn is passionate about the impact the iPads are having on student learning, “iPads have opened doors for many of our students. We have many students working below the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) who are learning to reach out and make contact with an object on the iPad. Through engaging apps such as Pocket Pond, Bloom HD and SoundPrism some students are now experimenting with moving their hands around the screen as a result of the exciting effects that occur.
We have many students who face challenges with counting accurately. It is too easy to count twice or miss one out. Through apps such as Whizzit 123 and Toddler Counting, they have to touch each individual object as they are counting. The numbers are read aloud to them and displayed visually. Only when they have counted all the objects, are they allowed to continue onto the next challenge. Even in the short time I have been using this app with students, I have observed students noticing objects missed and beginning to count more systematically.”
There are plenty of iPad success stories to share at Warringa Park School. For example, Samantha, a 16 year old student, generally gets into the classroom cupboard to find straws or sticks as these are her preferred items. However, one day she emerged from the cupboard with an iPad under her arm. Samantha took herself and the iPad to her place at the table, opened the iPad and attempted to turn it on. Staff helped her slide to unlock the screen, and then Samantha tapped on the Bubble Harp App and sat down to enjoy the experience.
In the past Samantha has approached the computers in the classroom only to tip the mouse over so she can see the red light. One of the teachers noted, “This is the first time I have ever seen Samantha self-motivated enough to seek out an item and engage with the equipment in a functional way.”
Classroom staff are delighted to see her being so self-directed and Samantha's mother was thrilled to hear about the event as well. “It was wonderful to see Samantha being independent and engaged in her own activity and learning.”
There are many non-verbal students at Warringa Park School who, before the iPad trial, would use pod books and other electronic devices to communicate. Warringa Park School is now exploring the Proloquo2Go app, a communicative app that can be completely personalised with pictures, voice recordings and choices of words. Dawn explains, “When starting with a particular student, we chose a limited number of basic words and phrases for him to use. These included ‘I want’, ‘iPad’, ‘textas’ and ‘help’. We have since built his repertoire into groups of words to use at different times of the day. Just a few weeks ago, the student approached his class teacher and used Proloquo2Go to say ‘I want help please’. He is able to make the sentence ‘I have finished my work now’ and is beginning to use other words independently. We are now working towards making complete sentences using these known words.”
Dawn has been working with a student who has severe autistic spectrum disorder on letter identification skills for about six months. “He was making small steps of progress when I introduced him to the app First Words. Using this app, students are required to identify letters and slide them up to construct words. The student used this app to spell ten basic words without any support from me. What also impressed me was the length of time he was absorbed in the activity, which lasted for about ten minutes compared with the average one minute.”
Another student with autism found it difficult to engage in an activity for any period of time and although his reading skills were good, it was challenging to find tasks that would hold his interest and help develop his comprehension skills. Jack and the Beanstalk is a fantastic animated and interactive app. When the student reads this book he is fully engaged as he watches each word light up and listens to the character read. He shows particular enthusiasm when he explores the characters on the page as they make the appropriate noises when they are touched.
A student with developmental delay and with limited movement in his joints has been extremely difficult to engage in any aspect of the curriculum. However, he has taken a particular interest in the Red Fish 4 Kids app. This app was, until now, only available on the web and therefore difficult for students to access. On one occasion this student was able to swipe across three screens on the iPad to locate his favourite app. He then persevered to press on the correct icon. Although he was unable to at the time observed, he is getting closer to achieving this! Inside the app itself, the spelling tasks are extremely structured as the word is shown faintly and when the letters are dragged near to the correct place, the app drags them into place. This enabled the student, with little movement in his fingers, to spell the word ‘jump’. The student’s teachers are thrilled by this achievement and are now working on spelling other words.
Mad Math is a favourite app amongst a group of middle years students. Students use the app to practice their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills. Some of the students are so pleased with their math results that they are emailing their scores to their parents!
As part of the iPads for Learning trial, Warringa Park School is implementing the Casper mobile device management suite.
The Casper suite allows Warringa Park School to centrally manage all of the school’s iOS devices, including iPads, iPod touches and iPhones. This means that teachers and administrators have the ability to lock or wipe a device, or to remove unwanted apps from an individual student’s iPad. Teachers can also use Casper to add bookmarks on the home screen and to customise an 'app store' like page to provide direct links to recommended apps, while removing all the distractions of the real app store.
Casper can be loaded onto any Mac OSx Server to provide wireless management over the school’s iOS devices. The process for adding a device is simple, the user or administrator simply visits an internal website from the iPad, logs in using their usual network credentials and follows a few prompts to load the necessary profiles. Once the device has been 'enrolled' into the Casper suite, it appears in the Casper administration menu.
In Term 2, Warringa Park School will be coupling the Casper suite with a series of MobileMe accounts to give the teachers full control over their classroom's devices, whilst allowing the students to maintain their own devices and iTunes accounts.
A challenge Warringa Park School has identified is that it can be difficult to demonstrate an activity on the iPad to a class of students. Warringa Park School is looking into visualisers that can project the iPad onto a large screen. For Blake, the school’s technician, “to be able to show kids a demonstration using your finger on the screen would be awesome.”
The administration team at Warringa Park School have had their heavy workload eased thanks to the portable and quick start-up features of the iPads. Teachers use their iPads each day to enter their student attendance details through CASES21.
Warringa Park School will undertake a big transformation in Term 2 when the majority of students will take their iPad home. This will extend the learning undertaken at school into the home. More importantly students will be able to show their learning to their parents who are very important education partners at Warringa Park School.
Principal Colin Schot explains, “We are just beginning the journey of what can be achieved and we believe that the journey will be exciting. We are just starting to imagine the possibilities that this device (through iMovie and Garage Band that are now available on iPad 2) will create to further assist the learning of our students. The fact that our students can copy and record their work onto the iPad means that the tablet is now a learning diary and down the track will also be their communication between home and school. Significantly, we will be able to accurately capture each student’s work over the course of the year. We hope that the iPad will not only enable students to engage, collaborate and share but it will also be a summative and informative assessment of the work that they undertake at school and at home.
The ability of the iPad to become a student’s learning timetable where the learning is more personalised and differentiated is something that we look forward to and hope to achieve in a much more meaningful way, than we are at this point in time.
The personalisation and the differentiation that can be achieved through the thousands of apps will continue to develop and grow, and will transform what can be achieved in all schools, not just specialist settings.
The ability to explore all areas of the curriculum, create virtual worlds and use games to scaffold learning will see the iPad become a content platform that connects, engages and enables learners to create, share and celebrate their learning between home and school.
The possibilities are endless!”
Information Technology Manager
Warringa Park School
Warringa Park School
“Speaking to many students around the school, it has become apparent that through the iPad, books have become much more accessible to many of our students who, until now, were unable to ‘read’ a book on their own. When being asked the reason why, they have replied quite simply ‘It reads to me!’”