What does a school without textbooks look like?
A lot like Saint Viator, parents are learning in advance of the school's Open House.
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Sure, there are some books around, and the school library remains intact. But in its first year of working exclusively with iPads, classrooms look very different.
In freshman algebra, student scribbles have given way to videos detailing how they computed their homework problems.
Art classes are much less messy, with students using the iPad app "Sketchbook Pro" and conductive brushes to draw and paint.
In science classes, students have already watched video lectures and can spend their time applying what they've learned.
And in all classes, iPads mean that teachers can tell which students are "getting it" -- and which are not.
All of Saint Viator's new technology will be on display at a series of Open House events, hosted by Student Council members, faculty, and Fr. Corey Brost, C.S.V., president.
These are from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, and from 6-8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18. To register, visit: www.saintviator.com/ns/pros/openhouse.asp.
Sr. Sophia Maria Gerlach uses the Educreation app in her math classes. It essentially turns the iPad into an interactive whiteboard.
"It allows them to explain their work to me in a very controlled setting, walking through equations and other problems to show their thought process," said Sr. Sophia Maria.
New staff member Maggie Miskowicz was hired specifically to integrate the iPads into the school -- a sort of iPad ambassador.
"With the iPad, it's making the classroom much more student-centered -- and not just teacher-centered," Miskowicz said. "Gone are the days when the teacher just stands up and lectures. Sure, there's still some of that, but the iPad allows the teacher to let the student be more productive, more creative."
Interactive SMART Boards in every classroom coordinate with the iPads, making each room more dynamic.
Social Studies teachers are using programs like StrataLogica so they can take advantage of 3-D maps using Google Earth. They can experience virtual terrain and buildings in cities, and more interactive globes, atlases and charts.
In science classes, teachers have equipment that will hook up to the iPad to collect data for inquiry labs, such as: velocity, acceleration, pH, temperature, oxygen and CO2 content. Once the data is collected, it can then be shared with the class through Google.
Science Department chair Eileen Cairo has encouraged her faculty to turn their rooms into "flip classrooms." In other words, teachers share videos on their units -- from DNA and heredity to photosynthesis to evolution -- and have students watch them at home on their iPads.
When they return to class, they have more time for hands-on activities that relate to the video, prepared by the teacher.
"Feedback from parents and students has been very positive," Cairo says. "Students are able to watch the video at their own pace and as many times as needed.
"It allows for more one-on-one time in class," she adds, "and it's great for students who are absent."
The schoolwide use of iPads has changed the community in more ways than in the classroom. For one thing, students are carrying around lighter backpacks -- no more heavy textbooks to weigh them down.
Parents are seeing the cost savings benefits. Within this first year, they have nearly already recouped the cost of the tablet, by downloading nearly all the textbooks online at a fraction of the cost.
"I'm really excited," says Eileen Manno, principal. "In my 40 years in education, I've never seen a change like this in the way students learn. It's groundbreaking."
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