ABOUT US - iCougars@KHS

The iCougars@KHS project began during the 2008-2009 school year, as teachers began exploring the educational uses of iTunes for the first time. Many teachers had the initial impression that iTunes and iPods were only about music, and had little place or application in education. During Brown Bag Lunch seminars, they were introduced to podcasts, audio content, iTunesU, and even ways in which music could be used to support curriculum. Despite the introduction of these new tools, change was nearly non-existent due to the widespread lack of sound systems and projectors in school classrooms. In the fall of the 2009-2010 school year, enhanced classrooms (mounted overhead digital projectors and surround sound systems) were installed in every Kearns High classroom. For the first time, teachers were beginning to have conversations about the role of digital media in their lessons and activities, the potential ease of accessing this media, and how displaying media on a large projection screen increased student engagement in their classrooms. Teachers wanted more ideas and more suggestions, and in October 2009, all teachers attended a Digital Media with iTunes professional learning session.

In the 2009-2010 School year, Granite School District formed its first cohort of the iSchool project, and in December 2009 Kearns High School was fortunate enough to be included as a participant. This program provided participating teachers with an iPod Touch, a document camera for displaying iPod Touch apps on a digital projector, two 40-station iPod cart for checkout, and three days of professional development training. With 45 teachers participating, it quickly became obvious that two classroom sets of iPods for the entire high school did not provide enough access to students and teachers to make a significant difference in student learning. Also, the logistics involved in the necessary individual check out and check in of the devices for a single class period took away significant amounts of instructional time with the devices. Still, rather than dismissing the program because of these limitations, participating teachers recognized the benefits and widespread educational potential of using mobile devices in classroom activities.

With the next phase of the iCougars@KHS project started in the 2010-2011 school year, Kearns High School seeks to significantly expand upon the iSchool pilot program and overcome its limitations by providing all teachers and students with the mobile technology and training resources necessary to demonstrate the full capabilities and possibilities of using individual mobile devices in and out of the classroom on a consistent, sustained, school-wide basis. Granite School District has continually looked for ways to create 21st century learning environments (http://www.21stcenturyskills.org) in our schools. Using mobile devices, which have such an enormous influence on the students we teach, was of particular interest. This program fits perfectly with the type of new ideas looking to be implemented. (Learn more about the 21st century teaching and learning framework.)

Information about the grant can be found on the EETT/ARRA grant website grant documentation can be downloaded in full as PDF. This grant is a collaborative process between Jim Henderson - Granite School District Director of Instructional Technology, Rachel Murphy - Kearns High Library Media Specialist, Josh Whiting-Granite School District Library Specialist, and the entire administration and faculty at Kearns high school. Questions can be directed to Rachel Murphy, ramurphy@graniteschools.org or by calling 385-646-8079.