Crabapple Middle School boosts learning through tech pilot

‘Bring Your Own Technology’ transforms teaching models

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MILTON, Ga. – Angry Birds and Candy Crush. Is there more to an iPad than just games?

“Absolutely,” said Principal Nathan Buhl of Crabapple Middle School (CMS) in Roswell. “Technology is transforming teaching and learning every day at CMS.”

Last year, the school participated in a pilot program for “Bring Your Own Technology” (BYOT) through the Fulton County School System (FCSS) to provide iPads for half the eighth-grade class – 75 devices in total. The program has grown into a “technology tsunami” said teachers, who were trained on how to use the technology in the classroom to enhance learning.

“Students are very visual learners these days and the technology really helps them see what they are learning about,” said Brittany Donley, a seventh-grade science teacher. “It is so cool to see their faces light up when they realize they can find apps that can help them with work and projects.”

She noted apps have been used to measure students’ understanding, acquire new knowledge, illustrate, view videos and manipulate 3-D models.

Seeing early success with the pilot, the CMS PTA raised funds for additional iPads to extend the technology to additional students and grade levels.

BYOT is for educational purposes only, said Buhl. Teachers choose which days devices are permitted and used and which are not. Acceptable devices generally include laptops, tablets, smartphones or other handheld devices.

“Using a device they are familiar with and putting their focus on learning, the students are staying engaged and on task in a classroom setting,” said Beth Miller, media and educational technology instructor at CMS.

Through the use of technology, teachers can differentiate instruction based on student interest and ability, and it provides immediate feedback to the teacher on what was learned and what needs more attention.

“Students who didn’t engage before are now more engaged in learning, more interested and hopefully, we’ll see even better learning,” added Miller.

The program has also been popular with CMS parents, as well.

“I’m amazed at the tools my kids have mastered this year,” said Nan Cooper, parent of twin seventh-graders. “They are using online collaboration software, making and editing videos and creating presentations worthy of any office in Atlanta. They are even using an app in band to self-tune.”

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