• October 22, 2014

Belton teachers create iTunes curriculum

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Posted: Sunday, June 22, 2014 4:30 am

BELTON — Under the guidance of the curriculum and instruction department, Belton High School world geography teachers developed an innovative iTunes curriculum that could make textbooks for the class obsolete, teachers said.

“This has been a labor of love, sweat and mostly good tears, hopefully,” said Kim Christy-Anderson, executive director of curriculum and instruction for the district.

Three teachers who helped develop the program gave an overview to the Belton Independent School District board of trustees last week.

Megan Crook has taught for 17 years, including 13 at BHS; Barbara Epperson has taught for 10 years, including two years at BHS; and Krystal Hawk is in her first year of teaching after serving as a substitute at BHS.

“Our goal was complete iPad integration, which provides great access for students and transparency for parents,” Crook said.

“We wanted to make sure the class was more innovative and incorporated 21st century skills.

“It’s a powerful and effective tool for our students. I want to thank Ed Braeuer (assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction) and Kim Christy-Anderson for always pushing us in that direction.”

Because the information is stored in an electronic format, frequent updates are possible, Epperson said.

“The information is automatically updated to students’ iPads,” she said.

“We don’t see a need for a textbook,” Crook said.

The teachers said information in textbooks quickly becomes obsolete with changing population facts and figures.

While an entire online curriculum may seem a daunting task, the teachers said they were able to do the “vast majority of the work in three days.”

“So if we didn’t give you iPads, would this have happened?” asked school board President Randy Pittenger.

“No,” the teachers replied in unison. “Absolutely not,” one of them said.

Projects like this are the type of innovation board members envisioned when they began issuing iPads to each secondary school student, said board member Amanda Winkler.

“I am overwhelmed with emotion,” she said. “Ed (Braeuer) and I had a conversation about using the iPads as the board intended. That was a passion of his.”

“We were very nervous tonight presenting to the board, and Ed (who died Monday) was with us,” Crook said.

The accomplishment could — and should — set a precedent, Pittenger said.

“You set a high bar for everybody else to follow, but it’s doable,” he said. “You’ve shown that.”

The world geography team will help inspire other departments, Christy-Anderson said.

“You don’t measure the influence of what you’ve done when you’re there, but when you’re not there,” she said.

“What they’ve really done is they’ll be the ones to help us move this forward (for other courses).”

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