Willmar, Minn., Senior High has seen major changes due to iPads

LINDA VANDERWERF
WEST CENTRAL TRIBUNE
FRIDAY, MARCH 8, 2013 – 11:06PM

 

WILLMAR — The social studies department at Willmar Senior High makes about 3,000 copies a month now. A year ago, that number was 20,000.  The primary reason for that 85 percent drop? iPads.

Willmar started the school year by issuing an Apple iPad tablet computer to every junior and senior in the school.  The district went from a half dozen iPads a couple years ago to more than 1,700 across the district this year.   The district is in its third year of working with iPads. Faculty learned to use the tablets first and looked at ways of using them in classes.  Then, the local business community got involved in December 2011 when former Principal Rob Anderson said he’d like to see all juniors and seniors have iPads by the following fall.   Other school officials were surprised by the statement, but the business community took it to heart and started raising money.  More than $300,000 were raised for the effort, and the school used its capital equipment fund to match it.

There were a few “hiccups” with the hardware at the beginning, when 600 iPads were turned on that first day of school, said social studies teacher Lyle Hovland, one of the leaders of the iPad initiative’s development.  There were some issues with the speed of the network in September, but they were fixed quickly, said Tyler Gehrking, another social studies teacher. Halfway through the school year, the school has noted about a dozen cracked screens and one lost iPad. The student’s family paid for a replacement.

There was never a problem in getting the teenage digital natives to use the new technology.  Senior High Principal Paul Schmitz said he’s seen many benefits for students and the school.  Assignments are given and turned in electronically, accounting for the dramatic decrease in paper use in the building. Tests are taken electronically, too. “We still need paper for some resources, but it’s always nice to see a reduction,”

Hovland said.  The iPads have helped kids with special needs find new ways to communicate and participate in classes. Choir music is stored on iPads. Art students develop graphic projects or find ideas online.

The faculty formed committees to share ideas and apps that are useful for classes. Each teacher has his or her own strategies.  “We are allowing teachers to use the tools that work best for them in their discipline,” Schmitz said, adding that teachers are the ones who have made the transition work so well.  “Every department is on board with going forward,” he said.  The social studies department is ahead of some of the others, because it just completed its periodic curriculum review. Rather than  spending more than $80,000 on books, the district spent about $16,000 to pay staff members to write digital textbooks for the department.  The Willmar teachers can tailor their books for their classes and to address state standards. The books can be updated as needed.  Writing the books has led to more collaboration between teachers and in departments, too, Schmitz said. Curriculum reviews are done on a rotating schedule, with one or two departments reviewing curriculum and teaching materials each year. As the schedule moves along, other departments will be writing their own books.  The science and health/physical education departments are in the process of writing iBooks this year.

Schmitz said students can lose their iPad privileges if they misuse them or download inappropriate material. So far, there’s been little problem with that.  Having the iPads around has led to many conversations about distractibility and proper uses of social media, Schmitz said.  “Multitasking is overrated,” he added. “Kids need to learn how to focus on one thing at a time; it’s a life skill the kids need to learn.”  For many students and their families, the iPad from school is the first computer in their home.  Hovland said he’s heard of students showing younger siblings how to use the iPad while they do homework together.

The iPads contain everything students need to complete assignments, so they don’t need internet access outside school.   At an update for the Willmar School Board this winter, Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard said the anticipated savings have come quickly. “The high school has bought into this much faster than any of us expected,” he said. “It’s an amazing switch for how they teach and what they teach.”  Kjergaard also warned the board that the district will be on a digital path from now on and will need to plan for eventual replacement costs. “We can never go back.”

Students and parents attend boot camp on iPads

Willmar, Minn.,

By: Linda Vanderwerf, West Central Tribune

Students and their parents attend an iPad boot camp Monday at the high school theater. About 60 students and their parents and guardians attended the meeting to familiarize themselves with the tablets and the school’s policies on using them. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Like many students, Nate Mittag didn’t think the talk of iPads for Willmar Senior High students would become a reality. So he and other students were pretty happy to find themselves holding their Apple tablet computers Monday in the high school theater at the first iPad Boot Camp. Nate, a senior, was there with his parents, Doug and Shannon Mittag of Willmar. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they fit into school,” he said. Doug Mittag added that the devices would even things out at the school. “Some kids don’t have a computer at home,” he said.

About 60 students and their parents and guardians attended the meeting. Five more are scheduled before school starts on Sept. 4. All juniors and seniors at the high school will be issued an iPad this fall. The school staff has spent the past two years studying the best ways to use the devices in the classroom.

A community fundraising effort and school district capital improvement funds have been used to lease 650 iPads, enough for all students in the two grades, plus some extras for faculty and for use in other school buildings. The long-term plan is to extend the program to sophomores next year.

The Apple iPad was chosen over other tablet computers because it has a longer battery life and a greater number of education related applications.

At the meeting, faculty members Lyle Hovland, Tyler Gehrking and Rob Flegel discussed the school’s policies. The iPads are Willmar Public Schools property, Gehrking said. “If a staff member wants to see what’s on your iPad, you have to show them.” Proper conduct with the devices was described. No photos or video of students or faculty are allowed without consent, and no photos or video are allowed in restrooms or locker rooms. He urged them to “be smart” when downloading information from the Internet. The school will have a filter on its internet service, but that may not be the case in most homes, Gehrking said. “You may not be filtered at home, but act like you are.” Students and their families are responsible for broken, stolen or destroyed iPads, Flegel said. Repair or replacement costs can run from $150 to $400.

The iPads must be fully charged and ready for each school day, Hovland said. “This is your textbook; this is your notebook,” he said. “It needs to go home and back with you every day.” Students won’t need to have internet access at home to do their homework, he said. “You can get everything you need at school.” Hovland urged the families to watch for a list of contributors at the school this fall and to thank people from the community who had donated to the effort.

Parents and students said they are looking forward to the coming school year. “I like technology,” said Annika Bergstrom, a junior from Raymond, attending with her mom Robin. “I feel like it’s going to make sure we’re all on the same page.” Karen Hauser of Raymond and her daughter, Sara, a senior, were also pleased with it, though Sara needed a little help with her password. “I think it’s a step toward the way things are going to be,” Karen Hauser said. Ricardo Moreno, a junior from Willmar, said he thinks the iPads are a great idea. “I think it’s going to be very beneficial for the whole school,” he said. “It makes everything simpler.” His mother, Maria Uvalle, said, “I already told my boy, we need to check who gave the money, so we can say thanks.” Ricardo added, “Thanks to the people who donated.”

The district has signed a three-year $262,650 lease with Apple Inc. for 650 iPads plus applications. It will be paid in three annual payments of $90,398.82, including interest. At the end of the lease, the district will have be able to purchase all the equipment for $1 plus sales tax. At the beginning of August, businesses, service organizations and individuals had pledged nearly $275,000 to the effort. The school district promised to use its capital outlay funding to match funds up to a total of $350,000. The capital outlay fund may be used for equipment and building improvements but not for day-to-day operating expenses.

Five other boot camps are scheduled: noon to 1 p.m. Aug. 16; 5 to 6 p.m. Aug. 16; 2 to 3 p.m. Aug. 20; 5 to 6 p.m. Aug. 20; and 4 to 5 p.m. Aug. 27. All of the sessions are in the high school theater. Information about the iPad boot camps may be found on the Senior High website: willmar.k12.mn.us/srhigh.

Gifts from near and far …

Support for the iCardinals Campaign has come from near and far.  Rayburn Fladeboe was born in1925 in Willmar, Minnesota where he was raised until his WWII service in the US Marine Corp took him to Southern California. He was honorably discharged in 1946. After a brief stint in banking and auto loans, Fladeboe discovered sales and what would become his lifelong passion, automobiles. His love for his craft fueled his success and eventual national notoriety when he was recognized as Lincoln Mercury’s top salesman in both 1955 and 1956. Shortly thereafter, he began to think about opening his own auto sales business. His vision became a reality in 1961, when Fladeboe opened his Mercury dealership in Bellflower, California.   After several successful years, the dealership added Lincoln to its stable. Fladeboe continued to own and operate the dealership until he sold the business and started planning a new vision that would revolutionize the landscape of the automotive business in Orange County, California. Fladeboe conceived the idea of an “auto center” with multiple large dealerships built in a single location to make it easier for customers to shop for new cars. Anticipating the growth of Orange County, Fladeboe met with key land developers in the area to build the Irvine Auto Center which continues to thrive as Southern California’s first auto center. His own auto corporation quickly grew to multiple dealerships in Orange County, including Fladeboe Honda, Fladeboe Volkswagen and Fladeboe Buick-GMC. Today, Fladeboe’s business and his legacy continue as a family owned business with over 200 employees. Fladeboe was an avid sportsman. He had a lifelong love of golf and he enjoyed his annual hunting and fishing trips with his nephews in his home state of Minnesota.  Ray Fladeboe touched the lives of many people and was consistently recognized and honored for his service to his country, his pioneering role in the automotive industry and for his plentiful contributions to his community.  Rayburn Fladeboe passed away in November of 2010.  In recognition of his love for the community of Willmar, his family has made a contribution to the iCardinals Campaign.  The iCardinals Campaign steering committee would like to thank Denice Fladeboe and her family, as well as Fladeboe Automotive Group, for their generosity in the recognition of their father and his Willmar heritage.

The iPads have arrived!

We had an EXCELLENT DAY!

All 650 iPads came in at 11am and the four of us (IT Adam, Rob, Lyle, and Tyler) along with our new district tech director Jason Hulstein and Principal Paul Schmitz picked them up at WEAC in three truck loads and took them out to the high school.  We spent the day unpacking, breaking down boxes, and identifying the pads with WPS stickers.

Thanks again for all your efforts in helping make this a real possibility for our students!
We’ll spend a good share of the week syncing the pads and getting them ready to run on our net.

Our first boot camp is August 6th and we are extremely excited.  Thanks so much.

School Board sets iPad policy for fall

West Central Tribune

Published June 12, 2012, 12:00 AM
Willmar, Minn., School Board sets iPad policy for fall
By: Linda Vanderwerf, West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — Willmar juniors and seniors will each pay a $50 annual rental fee when they are issued Apple iPads in September.
The Willmar School Board adopted a policy and a student/parent handbook for iPad use at school. A public hearing was held on the policy, but there were
no comments.
The rental fee will be required of all students, and the district will have a payment plan available for families that need them, said Superintendent Jerry
Kjergaard.
“So if they don’t pay the fee, it stays in school,” said Chairman Nathan Streed.
In addition to the rental fee, the policy says that inappropriate use of the iPad can result in suspension of iPad privileges.
Students and their families will be charged for repairing damage to an iPad. If the repair cost exceeds the cost of a new device, the student will pay the full
replacement value.
Board member Linda Mathiasen said the fundraising steering committee had asked to have a fee charged, so students will feel more “ownership” in the
process.
A community fundraising effort and matching funds from the district will be used to provide individual iPad tablet computers for all juniors and seniors, a
total of about 600 students.
It will be the third year in an ongoing pilot project to integrate iPad technology into classrooms. School officials and teachers have said the iPad can
provide all students with access to the same technology, regardless of income.
The handbook includes a list of goals for the iPad program, including enhancing and accelerating learning.
Other goals are to promote collaboration between students and staff, to increase student engagement and to strengthen technology skills for future
student success.
Another goal is to use the iPads as much as possible to replace traditional textbooks and classroom equipment like graphing calculators.
Many schools have chosen the iPad because it has a longer battery life than many tablet computers and Apple has many applications that are geared to
education.
In addition to paying the $50 fee, students and parents will be required to attend an iPad “boot camp” and complete a policy quiz and forms.
The policy says that access to the district’s electronic network is a privilege that may be suspended or revoked for misconduct. Use of the iPads must
comply with other district policies, including the discipline policy and the internet use policy.
Specific actions that are prohibited include threatening behavior, taking photos in locker rooms or restrooms and taking photos or recordings of any
teacher or student without permission. Gaming sites and many social media sites will be off limits.
School staff may seize and examine iPads at any time, as they will always remain the property of the school district.
In other business, the board adopted the fiscal 2013 budget, which will go into effect on July 1. The general fund budget reflects a 1.3 percent increase in
revenues and a 3 percent increase in expenditures, with total expenses expected to be $42.3 million.
The district plans to use some of its reserve funds to address instructional needs highlighted in recent state test results. The board also discussed some of
the staff changes proposed by Kjergaard. The state ranked the district’s two elementary schools among the lowest in the state in attacking achievement gaps between minority and white students and between low-income and more affluent students.

The “Possibilities” are Simply Endless

Published June 01, 2012, 12:00 AM
Willmar, Minn., special education students benefit from iPad technology

By: Linda Vanderwerf, West Central Tribune

image

Hali Bogle, a freshman, listens to “Romeo and Juliet” on an iPad during Amber Johannes’ class May 25 at Willmar Senior High. Bogle demonstrated how she could easily find photos and videos on the iPad to enhance a student’s understanding of the play by William Shakespeare. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR — Not that long ago, a device to help hearing-impaired people communicate could cost $12,000 or more.

Now, a $500 Apple iPad tablet computer with a 99-cent application can do much the same thing.

An app on a school-owned iPad helped Willmar Senior High sophomore Juan Carranza work with another student to deliver a report and PowerPoint
presentation in health class this past school year.

Carranza has a serious hearing loss, and the other student is profoundly deaf.
It’s one of special education teacher Amber Johannes’s favorite examples of what the iPads can do for her students.

Beginning in September, juniors and seniors at Willmar Senior High will be issued individual iPads. If a community fundraising drive is successful, the
school district hopes to provide individual iPads to sophomores and freshmen in a year.
When students have individual iPads, Johannes said, she expects to see more doors open for them.

“It’s been a huge change for the kids,” Johannes said. “They can participate more actively in class. … It’s just cool; it gives me shivers.”
In Johannes’ classroom a week ago, Hali Bogle, a freshman, listened to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” on an iPad and followed along.

Hali demonstrated how she could easily find photos and videos to enhance a student’s understanding of the play.

In the past, the department used audiobooks on CD, Johannes said, but they got scratched, broken and lost, and replacements could be expensive. “Now
they’re on iPads,” she said.
Speech pathologist Lyndsey Paffrath-Bice uses an iPad app on hers to show students how the mouth and tongue work together to make different sounds.
When they have their individual tablets, she said, they will be able to communicate better with their teachers and with other kids.

Students are excited about the possibilities, too, she said. They keep asking her, “Are they really going to do that?”

Because everyone will have a school email account next year, she added, it should help special education teachers communicate better with students and
classroom teachers. For students who leave class during the day for speech therapy, she said, she can send them a message telling them what time she’s
expecting them. “It makes them more accountable.”

Juan said he is looking forward to having an iPad to use all the time next year as a junior.
“I liked it,” Juan said of his presentation. He speaks, but his verbal skills are affected by his hearing loss. With the iPad, he can type what he wants to say,
and the tablet will speak for him.
Because English and American Sign Language are different languages, some meaning can be lost in translation, said interpreter Mandi Norby. With an
iPad, “he can pick out the exact word he wants to use.”

Health teacher Chad Akerson said the report was a first-time experience for his entire class.
“It was two hearing-impaired students that had to get up and give a presentation; it was their words but a computer voice,” he said. “They did a great job,
and the kids were respectful.”

An interpreter stepped in to assist during a question-and-answer session after the presentation.

Akerson said he thought Juan and his partner were confident and comfortable during the presentation. Since then, Akerson has continued using an iPad
in the classroom. It’s been particularly useful for learning to pronounce unfamiliar terms.
Johannes said the speaking app is available free, but comes only with a female voice. “We decided it was important for him to give the report in a boy
voice,” she said, so the school purchased the 99-cent version with voices for both genders.

Paffrath-Bice was pleased, too, with the health class report. Juan has not been that comfortable in front of groups before, she said, but “he had a sense of
pride that he could do this.”

Improved grades a result of tablet use …

The following article ran in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on May 5

“Minnetonka schools’ iPad program to expand next fall”

The Minnetonka school board recently approved a recommendation to issue iPads to all freshmen and sophomores beginning next school year.

All 720 freshmen began using iPads in January as part of an expanded pilot program aimed at bolstering learning and helping students navigate a world defined by evolving technology. Administrators determined that student iPad use this school year resulted in fewer D’s and F’s and more A’s and B’s, particularly in math. Consequently, they recommended expanding the program to include sophomores next year. The cost of purchasing an additional 800 iPads is expected to be about $369,000 and will be paid out of the district’s technology budget.

To mitigate parents’ concerns that the iPads might be a distraction in the classroom, the district already has taken several steps to improve security. For example, students can’t access the iTunes store and download apps. Instead, the school must approve all apps.

© 2011 Star Tribune

We’re Excited!

Lyle Hovland teaches Psychology and Film at Willmar High School

Willmar Senior High School staff and administration is incredibly excited about the 1to1 iPad possibility for the 2012-2013 school year, as we collaborate with the iCardinal steering committee and investors. I personally have a great deal of pride in the Willmar district and its desire to be innovative. I was born and raised in Willmar, and taught
side by side with my mentor and father, Leon Hovland for eight years. My father loved incorporating technology into his math classrooms and helping teachers and students with technology. Our iPad 1to1 model not only enhances the way we presently teach, but also advances the way our kids learn today.

We have an innovative staff continually striving to incorporate new technology while providing a strong foundation for students in the core areas. Kids learn differently today, but still need the foundations of education in reading, writing, math, and communications. As teachers, we need to embrace their lifestyle and ways of learning, and incorporate those styles into our mission for their education.

Providing an iPad for every junior and senior next year (sophomores and freshman possibly the following year) gives all students the same learning opportunities. We refer to it as “leveling the playing field.” Willmar Senior High has a great group of diverse students. Currently 42% of our student population is on the free and reduced lunch program.
That means many students cannot even think about some of the opportunities that are available for them because of limited economic support.

It is important people realize so many of our students are excited about themselves and their potential, but lack the financial means to support those aspirations. Many of the kids live on their own, work long hours, and provide for themselves. These same kids show up and have a strong desire to succeed. I continually want to help all of them in
any way possible. I often wonder, could they be at a disadvantage with future employers if the district is unable to give them access to various types of technology.

Our community and school district have come together with this iCardinal project to help make success for all students a reality. I am so thankful for the leadership of Dr. Kjergaard, Dave Baker, Mike and Sheila Tolbert, Ken Warner, Rob Anderson, and all of the steering committee members. Many people have put in a great deal of time and passion to
help our kids. We have a great group of TLC leaders at the high school (Tyler Gehrking, Rob Flegel, Amber Johannes, and Amy Grussing) and a motivated staff and administration. It is exciting to be a part of this movement.

When I imagine classrooms next year, I envision all juniors and seniors having an iPad as a required tool for their education and growth. Their pad would have all required resources and apps already paid for and preloaded. They will be able to write papers, complete assignments, read “textbooks,” take notes, turn in assignments, receive supplemental materials, create presentations, edit, record video or audio, make calculations, and organize research all on one device – a device that we have provided for them. Currently we have three iPad carts at the high school. It has been fun to see how easy it is to integrate the iPad technology into the curriculum. The students are truly engaged and pick up things quickly. I look forward to seeing their enthusiasm for learning continue next year with our 1to1 model.

There will be a small user fee, but there will be a means of spreading out payments or scholarships available for those who are not able to afford this user fee. Their user fee would accompany their agreement to participate in the Willmar iPad project and to have a little ownership in the game. At school, there will be free WIFI access that is
specially filtered for student safety. For home use, parents will be educated on how to filter and censor what is appropriate. Kids without WIFI access at home will get everything they need to complete work before they leave school in the afternoon. Those same kids would “turn in” their homework as soon as they enter our building and their iPad recognizes the WIFI network.

Ultimately our job (parents, teachers, administrators, and the community) is to prepare our kids for a career and/or college, and ultimately to be positive community contributors. To help them become excited about their learning, to work hard, and to be passionate about helping others. I truly believe great things will happen as we seek ways to advance our teaching techniques and advance student learning. This collaborative effort has proven we live in a community that truly cares about kids.