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Dougherty County Teachers Showcase Apple Classroom Tech

Two years after the Dougherty County School System in Georgia partnered with Apple to train teachers to use iPads, MacBook Airs and other devices to enhance lessons, teachers say student engagement is up.

iPads in education
(TNS) — Dougherty County teachers and students are ditching the markers and poster boards for digital displays and presentations.

iPad-recorded news broadcasts, Keynote app animations of the Earth’s rotation and GIFs of the moon’s phases are just some of the projects DCSS students are using Apple technology to create.

Twenty-seven teachers from the 2024 Apple Teacher program cohort gave presentations demonstrating how they use Apple technology — iPads and MacBook Airs — to enhance lessons in their classroom during the first Apple Teacher Showcase. The program stems from the partnership between DCSS and Apple that began two years ago. With the partnership came an Apple education specialist team to train teachers on how they can use technology and apps in their lessons.

Nikki Dydell, the director of school improvement, said in 2023 every classroom across DCSS was given Apple equipment. Students are assigned their own iPad or MacBook for the entire year and are able to bring them home to complete assignments.

Dydell said they wanted to bring 24/7 learning to DCSS students and teachers.

“COVID taught us that we need to be ready any time to pivot so that we are able to learn no matter where we are,” she said. “We’re making sure that all of our students have devices.”

Dydell said teachers have seen an increase in student engagement since the technology was integrated into their classrooms.

“We know now that our students — with TikTok, Instagram — they like their technology,” she said. “They like to be engaged in those ways.”

Efashia Mitchell, a first-grade teacher at Turner Elementary, said even her younger students are able to adapt to using the technology easily.

Mitchell integrated the Apple equipment into her classroom in phases. First, she was hands-on with the students, showing them how to use the iPads and apps. For the second activity, she said she let students go and take photos on their own. By the final activity, she said students were creating audio and video recordings, having conversations with their classmates without her direction.

She used the Keynote and Clips apps to create activities for her students. Students recorded themselves for a “Five Finger Retell” activity during which they had to recount the characters, setting, details and message of a story.

Mitchell has taught for five years and has used Apple technology for the last year. She said she’s noticed her students are more engaged in lessons.

“They’re excited about participating,” Mitchell said. “They’re excited about being able to use the technology.”

In Willard Weston’s fourth-grade science class at Lincoln Elementary Magnet School, students are learning how to create animations, video stories and visual representations using Keynote, iMovie and Apple Clips. Their animations depict the seasons in motion or Earth’s revolution around the sun. They created unique displays and news broadcast-like lessons about the food chain.

Ronald Catlin, the senior Apple professional learning specialist, said he appreciates the risk teachers took in learning something new. Apple Teachers were paired with an Apple support specialist. Together, the teachers and specialists went through a co-planning process for lessons.

“During the planning process, the teachers become the voice of what they want to happen, and we just become a support vessel of how they use the technology to enhance,” Catlin said.

The teacher cohort was presented with awards at the end of the showcase as well as DCSS Apple Teacher merch and their own Apple televisions.

“We’re so proud of the work, the engagement and the commitment,” Catlin said.

©2024 The Albany Herald, Ga. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.