Measure K UPDATE
SUMMER 2012

Technology to Boost Learning at New Nelson Academy

students and teacher working with iPads at Nelson Academy in Long Beach


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The first school built from the ground up with Measure K funds will open this fall with wireless technology, which will provide a powerful new tool for the classroom.

Each of the 750 students at the new Jessie Elwin Nelson Academy in Signal Hill will receive an iPad to use at school and at home.

The tablet computers, introduced by Apple, Inc., provide a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games and web content. Nelson is the district’s first school to broadly integrate wireless iPad technology based on instructional strategies called for in the state’s Common Core Standards.

“We are going to pilot new ways of teaching and learning,” said Principal Sparkle Peterson, who, along with about 60 staff members at Butler Middle School, will transfer to Nelson this fall. “Technology will change the way we educate students and put a world of resources at their fingertips.”

Wireless technology at the new school will provide Internet connections anywhere on campus.

“This means, for example, a science teacher could take students outside to study something in nature, and class could be conducted with iPads accessing online information on the topic,” Peterson said.

For teachers such as Megan Shihady, the iPads will open up a world of unlimited resources for her eighth grade U.S. history students.

“Right now, we have a computer lab but students usually have to double up on terminals,” Shihady said. “With each student having his or her own iPad, we’ll be able to access online resources in a much easier and more efficient manner.”

The plan is to eventually transition from textbooks to online texts, which are more cost-effective and easier to update.

“We won’t have a time lag in the future as we do now between when textbooks are written and edited and when they are published and delivered to our classrooms,” said Christine Dominguez, deputy superintendent of curriculum, instruction and professional development.

“We also anticipate that the new technology will motivate students who are naturally attracted to iPads and will increase their desire to learn using these devices,” Dominguez said.

“I use my brother’s laptop when I’m at home now, so it will be great to have my own iPad to use whenever I need it,” said seventh grader Jordan Clark. “I’m looking forward to using my iPad to check on assignments and grades on School Loop and to do research for my classes.”

Teachers are already beginning training on teaching with iPads, and professional development in educational technology will continue throughout the next school year.

The school district’s Technology Committee is developing guidelines to track the iPads and repair or replace them as necessary. The shift to wireless technology is, in part, driven by the state requirement that by 2016, all students will take standardized tests online.

By giving students access to technology tools on a daily basis, educators anticipate that students will be better prepared for online testing. As a pilot, Nelson will help the entire school district to integrate technology with expanded learning opportunities.