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District develops new teaching methods to utilize classroom technology

OCEANSIDE — Like other districts throughout San Diego County, Oceanside Unified School District is striving to bring mobile technology into its classrooms.

But rather than focusing on getting as many iPads, Chromebooks, and other mobile devices into the hands of as many students as possible, the district is first ensuring that teachers are utilizing best practices when using the new tools.

“Our focus isn’t on the technology, it’s on the learning,” said Doug Kriedeman, OUSD’s coordinator of assessment.

To achieve the best possible enhancements to student learning, it is not just a matter of having a handful of classroom mobile devices, he explained. The devices must be used as a means for teachers to conduct more robust lessons and projects.

“The devices themselves do not make students more engaged,” he said.

So OUSD has partnered with the University of San Diego’s Mobile Technology Learning Center to develop Oceanside 2.0, a program designed to teach teachers how to implement best practices for utilizing new classroom technology.

The teachers that are piloting these practices in eight of OUSD’s schools say that the new teaching methods are already making a difference for their students.

Fifth grade teacher Tiffany Ortega explained that she is able to use the new mobile devices to develop projects that turn students into “information producers rather than (information) consumers.”

When her Del Rio Elementary School class was preparing to visit the U.S.S. Midway earlier this year, she wanted to introduce history of the aircraft carrier to her students in a new and engaging way.

Her goal was to do more than have her students read about the massive military ship and complete a worksheet. She wanted her students engaged about the historical subject that they would soon explore firsthand.

Her students came up with the idea to produce a commercial about the carrier.

With Ortega’s guidance, the class was able to utilize iPads to write the script, find the images, record the sound, and produce the video for their commercial.

She said that the inquiry-based project enabled students to absorb the information and articulate what they had learned in a creative way.

Ortega explained that projects like these have helped her reach students who otherwise would have remained unengaged.

“They had shut down because the traditional model of teaching wasn’t working for them,” she said of those students.

But with projects that utilize iPads, she said she’s seen an “intellectual awakening” for those students.

“Having iPads in the classroom brings education to life,” said Jada, an OUSD elementary school student. She explained that the devices help students pay attention longer.

“With this iPad, we have one more element to keep our students involved and active,” said Renee Trelease, a first grade teacher at Foussat Elementary School. “That engagement and that learning is happening there, and that’s exciting.”