Tuesday, March 6, 2012

CMS teachers can seek iPad grants

Teachers who want help moving into next year's wireless learning environment can apply for grants to get an  "innovation kit"  that includes an iPad for the teacher,  up to 10 for students and various accessories,  including  "an iTunes app voucher,"   according to a memo Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools sent to employees today.

The  "Innovation for Transformation"  grants are part of the push to get all schools using wireless devices for learning in 2012-13.  School administrators have already gotten iPads,  and many teachers have been asking whether they'll get devices supplied by CMS.  I'm trying to track down how much money CMS plans to spend on the classroom grants and where it's coming from.

"In order for the learning environments of today to effectively meet the needs of the 21st century digital learner, a transformation must occur,"  the CMS memo states, promising "a transformational journey filled with innovative professional development, digital resources, and effective student engagement."

I got a glimpse of what CMS'  "bring your own technology" environment might look like when I visited the private Providence Day School for an upcoming story.  Josh Cannon, a 26-year-old chemistry teacher,  welcomes smart phones and other devices in his class.  When he did a demonstration that sent flames shooting out of a five-gallon water keg,  one student shot photos on his iPhone.  When Cannon talked about needing a dry day to do some outdoor explosions, half a dozen students whipped out their phones to check the forecast.  When students broke up to do individual work,  one used his phone as a calculator while working on a laptop.  Several popped in ear buds so they could listen to music while reading.  Students say they use their phones to keep up with when assignments are due,  which they track on Google calendars.

Also on the tech front,  Saturday's National College Fair will use bar codes to save students and families some paperwork.  CMS reports that students can fill in their information once,  then get a code that each college booth can scan,  saving the time of repeatedly writing down personal information. Read more about the fair here.

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