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Not only were the spring breezes blowing and the sun shining on May 15, 2010, but thirty-one educators from as far away as Union, NJ, showed their willingness to spring forward in new ways to help their students “grow” when they gathered at the Apple Store in Marlton, NJ.
Before 9am, NJ LC Event Coordinator, Stacy Kasse, greeted the gathering educators, while Tonya Wilson, Lynnette Criner, and Denise Steedle of the NJ DEN and Meg Griffin, PA Leader, talked with the attendees about the new iPad product they had all gathered to see. For the next hour Jason and Andrew of the Marlton Promenade site walked the teachers through the many classroom applications of the iPad. Several of the teachers, already owners of the iPad, shared best practices, among them Margie Eckhoff of Brick Township who uses the ProLoQuo2go app to enhance her Autistic students’ experiences.
Pat Griffin-Greenhow of Camden works with a visually impaired student who has not had textbooks she could see throughout her first six years in school. Pat immediately saw the iBooks app, with its ability to adjust font size and pair up with Kindle book readers, as a tool that would enable her student to finally have all of the textbooks available to her in a format and size she could see. “A grant for this is something I’ll be working on. Because of its portability and adaptability, my students would not have to have that heavy book bag filled with books that don’t fit their needs. I can hook it up to my SMARTboard and everyone can see.” Other apps the teachers favored were Louvre, which opens the world famous museum to students who might never experience it, and most liked of all, iTunesU. Cheryl Lucas of Camden, a recently joined DEN Star couldn’t stop talking about iTunesU, “It provides hundreds of online professional development opportunities. I can find out whatever I want, whenever I want. I came out this morning, but I could sit at home and do this without taking off my casual clothes. This, I like.”
After adjourning from Apple, the group moved to Panera at the Promenade for breakfast and networking. Four new DEN Stars joined the New Jersey ranks, and others began the process. Panera employees were welcoming and hosted the enthusiastic group for several more hours. “You are all teachers. This is Saturday and you are working without getting paid?” one of the Panera staff quizzed a member of the NJ DEN Leadership Council. A quick explanation of the event yielded this further comment, “I love Discovery. My children learn so much watching their programs. Now I know they help teachers. I’m going to tell my son’s teacher.” The NJ DEN will welcome her!
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