Magazine article Teach

iBooks Integrate Technology and Curriculum in Red Deer

Magazine article Teach

iBooks Integrate Technology and Curriculum in Red Deer

Article excerpt

These days, people in Red Deer, Alberta can boast about their Memorial Cup-winning Rebels hockey team. But they can also be proud of their local school board, and its progressive approach to integrating technology.

Meet Piet Langstraat, 40-year-old former classroom teacher and school principal, now District Coordinator for Technology at Red Deer Public School District No. 104. Piet is overseeing a pilot project at Red Deer middle schools that clearly raises the bar for classroom computer use.

As computers began appearing in schools in the 1980s, something called the "computer-option" model quickly developed. Computer-option meant students could choose to learn about computers, with the computer as the focal point. But now, educators want students to learn through computers, using the computer as a tool. That means getting computers into circulation, and integrating them with the mainstream curriculum of math, science, reading, and writing.

That's why Red Deer turned to the iBook. As part of the pilot project, every Red Deer middle school has a specially-made cart that can wheel up to 40 iBooks between classrooms. Each classroom has been equipped with at least four Ethernet ports-two of them receive AirPorts, and another receives a printer. iBooks then move freely about the classroom, maintaining a wireless network and Internet connection. "It takes the teacher about three minutes to set it all up," says Langstraat. "It's very slick."

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With this system in place, students can embark on some very interesting programs. One, called the "Stock Market of Eastview," has grade 8 students building and tracking investment portfolios. Their work is kept in a FileMaker Pro database that gets refreshed every day with current stock prices. This activity supports several underlying elements of the math curriculum, including graphing and charting.

Traders work in groups of four, often in different classrooms at the same time. Their activities are coordinated by the networked iBooks. "Another system wouldn't lend itself to this kind of collaboration," says Langstraat, who adds that some healthy competition emerges between the groups.

iBooks have been applied to the fine arts curriculum as well. …

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