Farmington Institute highlights iPad instruction

First iPad-based institute attracts educators from seven districts

Teachers learn how to create iBooks for teaching at the first Farmington Institute focused on technology education and learning with iPads. Teachers from more than seven districts participated in the two-day workshop. (Photo submitted)

Teachers learn how to create iBooks for teaching at the first Farmington Institute focused on technology education and learning with iPads. Teachers from more than seven districts participated in the two-day workshop. (Photo submitted)

When Farmington schools put an iPad in the hands of every student this school year, teachers also encountered a learning curve.

Early adopter Peter Fleenor, an eighth-grade geography teacher at Boeckman Middles School, said the iPad “revolutionized his classroom.”

Instead of being “the fountain of knowledge,” he allowed students to take on leadership roles and seek out answers.

“Kids can get to higher levels of judgement,” he said. Their learning takes on higher rates of engagement.

For example, instead of memorizing the 50 states and capitals, “Students can look it up in three seconds. But there is more value in being able to inquire and know why it’s a major city, what makes it important, and research and get pertinent knowledge.”

Fleenor was one of those who led sessions based on experiences at the Farmington Institute on Thursday, June 13, and Friday, June 14. Director of Educational Program Barb Duffrin said that Farmington has hosted technology institutes in the past, but now the program is geared completely toward iPad use.

The program was free to the districts with innovation zone designations, Farmington and Spring Lake Park. More than 180 participants attended the first day, closer to 100 the second, but the group represented seven districts including Minneapolis, Hastings, South Washington County and Northfield.

Farmington Teaching and Learning Coordinator Caleb Drexler Booth said this was an opportunity for early adopters to highlight what they have learned.

“So many people are doing different this. We’re on an island, and we’re doing different things and pushing boundaries,” Fleenor said.

He sees it as a way to continue learning from other teachers and collaborate on fresh ideas.

Popular classes included iBooks creation, and some session were just as basic as classroom management. Duffrin said that substitute teachers also attended sessions to learn some tips and tricks about management.

Topics for this session included how to remain in control of the class and have eyes on the back of your head when a kid has an iPad, so they are not playing games or becoming distracted. One suggestion was to keep the iPad flat on the desk. Another suggestion was to assign student technology experts in the classroom who could help students, so the teacher as the content expert does not have to provide tech support that distracts from the lesson.

Materials from the Farmington Institute are available online at tiny.cc/192institute.

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