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St. Gabriel's Launches 1:1 iPad Initiative To Flip Classrooms
- By Mike Hohenbrink
St. Gabriel's Catholic School in Austin, TX has unveiled a technology initiative designed to use iPads and videoconferencing to improve student learning through performance-based outcomes and a comprehensive evaluation of metrics.
The school, which serves students in grades preK-8, will provide each class through grade 3 with classroom iPads and provide individual iPads to all students in grades 4 and 5, and all classrooms will be connected via videoconferencing to museums, laboratories, and other learning environments.
The new technology will be integrated into the curriculum and students will be able to use the iPads to access their schoolwork remotely. Through use of a "flipped classroom" approach, students will watch Khan Academy video lessons at home and then complete assignments while in the classroom to allow teachers to directly observe student learning and meet the needs of each student as an individual.
The school is also making iPads available to St. Gabriel's language specialist to help students who require specialized support. This includes use of phonics and apps tailored for a student's individual learning needs.
The school has also announced that it will make available the findings it gathers from student metrics as the program is implemented.
"Our mission is to raise our children to be world-ready leaders," said Head of School Steve Balak. "This means we must equip them with the right tools and 21st Century skills necessary for success. We also recognize that any new classroom tool must have a positive impact on learning and performance, which requires a rigorous commitment to evaluation. We are proud to launch a comprehensive strategy not only to put the best technology into the hands of our students and teachers, but also to adequately and honestly assess its impact. It is not about technology for technology's sake; it's about using technology to obtain results. Technology is a tool, not a toy."
The initiative builds on an existing commitment to technology at St. Gabriel's, where students in grades 6-8 have participated in a 1:1 laptop program for more than five years. The school also offers an elective in robotics and a First Lego League robotics team at the school has received several awards and won national championships four times.
"Our faculty is committed to ensuring students are equipped with the skills necessary to adapt to the ever-changing world around us," said Misty Poe, head of middle school. "We have seen the benefits of our middle school laptop program; it is one of the reasons we continue researching and framing curriculum based on evidence of best practices in innovative teaching methods."
More information is available at sgs-austin.org.