Dallas ISD’s students and Early Learning department are in their second year of an Apple partnership, and some of their work with digital tools will be showcased this month at the district’s second Digital Palooza.
Unlike last year, when it was virtual due to the pandemic, this year’s event will be in person at Conrad High School on April 28 from 5 to 6:30 p.m., and all district employees, parents, and students are welcome.
“We’re two years into COVID, and we’re in a space to really shift the emphasis for the district on what technology means for students and how we’re embracing it,” said Dr. Debbie Murillo, Early Learning director. “Technology provides an opportunity for our students to gain access to learning and creates equitable experiences for all learners.”
And speaking of the partnership, Apple Specialist Christine Medrano said, “Technology can empower students to personalize their learning and interact with content in new ways beyond paper and pencil.”
Murillo explains that two years ago the district purchased iPads for students in prekindergarten through second grade. “We work hand-in-hand with Apple to make sure the devices are being used to maximize instruction. We have created several digital leadership cohorts, open to teachers, specialists, and administrators over the last two years, to really invoke that knowledge.”
One of those efforts, the IMPACT Vanguard program, is an intensive semester-long program that uses meaningful practices to advance curriculum with technology. Teachers who become Vanguard members identify a specific area of focus in their classrooms and conduct an action research-based cycle to address classroom needs through the intentional use of technology. Participants are provided coaching and support throughout the process.
The Palooza will target teachers and administrators to build awareness of the things they can do with technology, so that they can implement those things in the classroom, Murillo said. One display will include a lesson where students used paper airplanes and the measurement tool on the iPad to measure distance.
The Early Learning department is also offering an executive coaching program this year for administrators, she said. “The ultimate goal is to double our reach to students as compared to last year, and we are on track to meet that goal with the help of our instructional specialists.”
At the Palooza, said Sheena Kapadia, digital learning coordinator, “We’ll have instructional specialists, teachers, and students demonstrate activities and digital tools that have been successfully implemented in classrooms to enhance learning and spark engagement.” Multimodal features on the iPad allow for critical thinking skills to develop through recording audio, filming videos, animating, and more.
This year’s event will feature a keynote address from one of the teachers in the IMPACT Vanguard, Jose Armendariz, Dallas ISD’s 2021 Primary Teacher of the Year. Then a panel will discuss the technology and how it’s being implemented meaningfully in classrooms. There will be a ceremony for everyone who was new to the program this school year. And finishing out the event will be an interactive learning experience, with stations where people will have the opportunity to learn about digital activities.
Projects on display will include augmented reality activities for math, multimodal graphic organizers, digital decodable readers, interactive anchor charts and more! The examples will be highlighted by instructional specialists, teachers, and students.
“They’re using the technology they have at their fingertips to show their work and communicate through digital devices,” Murillo said.