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PHS is 'way ahead' when it comes to iPads, teachers say

Submitted photo Sandra Wieser-Matthews gave a presentation about iPads in the classroom at the annual TIES conference in Minneapolis. Teachers Jeff Morris and Shawn Stafke and technology specialist Shane Snyder also presented.

For the first time in history, Perham High School teachers were presenters at Minnesota's biggest education technology conference.

Three PHS teachers, Jeff Morris, Shawn Stafki and Sandra Wieser-Matthews and technology specialist Shane Snyder gave presentations at the 2012 TIES conference, held in Minneapolis Dec. 10. They shared what they've learned about how to use iPads in the classroom.

Teachers from most area schools attend the conference every year.

In an interview afterward, Morris said he felt like the audience appreciated talking to people who were, "very real" and weren't afraid to say that some mistakes were made.

After visiting with other schools, Morris, Stafki and Wieser-Matthews agreed Perham is "way ahead" of other schools when it comes to how iPads are being utilized.

For example, "Perham has all the components in place in one cohesive unit," Wieser-Matthews said. Other schools are using the iPad for one tool, such as apps or e-books.

Not many districts have teachers teaching teachers, either, as Perham does with its tech integration specialist plan.

Here in Perham, "administration set expectations for teachers to meet, and everyone jumped in. That makes us different from other districts, too," Wieser-Matthews said.

PHS is also different in that it allows students to personalize iPads with fun games and apps of their choosing.

Stafke said that to have a successful one-to-one initiative, "you have to have an online content management system," such as the school's 549 Online site.

Morris said, "The coolest thing about our session was not one person left before it ended, and when we did end, 30 hands went up."

PHS Principal Ehren Zimmerman said of his staff, "They are using the iPad to reinforce the education that has always been going on here in Perham."