High-Tech Teaching at Chenango Forks

By Peter Quinn

Published 02/12 2014 04:38PM

Updated 02/12 2014 05:15PM

Chenango Forks High School has gone high-tech. Nearly half of its students have been issued iPads by the district. The devices have transformed the way teachers give students information.

Three years ago, the iPad program started off at Chenago Forks with 15 Spanish class students. Since then it has exploded. Now more than 200 students use the devices.

"It changes the classroom from a teacher based classroom to a student based classroom," said Spanish teacher and tech specialist Cheri Panko. "In our classrooms we also have Apple TV's where the students project their work and the teacher can then become a facilitator instead of so much a lecturer. It really changes the whole dynamic of the classroom completely."

Panko and art and video teacher Keith Rosko say the devices make the classrooms more interactive and many kids actually have a desire for more material in lessons.

"I really believe that students are going to consume more content, quicker, faster and in a way that makes them more involved learners than what they have been in the past," said Rosko.

By using what is called iTunes U, which is a resource Apple created for universities and schools, students can easily access a variety of materials, including electronic textbooks, which are filled with words and multi-media.

"In our propaganda unit, I maybe get to cover snippets from two or three films," said Rosko. "Now I can cover snippets from half a dozen films and then send the students to iTunes you where they can view the entire film in its entirety at their own pace, in the comfort of their own home."

Rosko says that leads to more though provoking discussions in the classroom. In his video production class, a lot of the recording and some editing can be done on the devices. In the past, students in foreign language classes have had limited speaking opportunities in class and have done written homework, but not anymore. Their iPads now record their voice and then Cheri Panko can give critiques once she receives assignments through cyberspace.

Panko also creates her own textbooks, complete with video, audio, practice exercises and more. She doesn't use any paper textbooks. Soon other districts will be able to access those.

"Now Chenango Forks is in the process of becoming provider of iTunes U courses, which means that if someone wanted to search for Chenango Forks on iTunes U they'd be able to find us and the courses that we have on there," said Panko.

The iPads also mean no more excuses about not getting assignments done, because everything is posted online, so even if students are sick, they can keep caught up.

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