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English Language Development Technology Specialists support teachers in the Cartwright School District as they utilize technology in the classroom. Technology integration doesn’t have to be a cumbersome item tagged onto teachers’ to-do lists. According to the Cartwright School District’s English La

Feb 10, 2016

English Language Development Technology Specialists support teachers in the Cartwright School District as they utilize technology in the classroom.


Technology integration doesn’t have to be a cumbersome item tagged onto teachers’ to-do lists. According to the Cartwright School District’s English Language Development (ELD) Technology Specialists, when used strategically, iPads can support student achievement, enhance teacher efficiency, and increase classroom productivity. While this idea may seem far-fetched to some, it is the reality when technology coaches support educators.

Vanessa Zurita and Stefanie Daley aid English Language Learner (ELL) teachers in the Cartwright School District. These 25 educators applied to be members of the iClass21 initiative, which means they are a one-to-one classroom—there are enough iPads in the class for each student.

In order to best serve the teachers, the two divide the group and meet with participants on a biweekly basis. Whether time is spent lesson planning, coaching or co-teaching, the financial and mentor-like support offered by Cartwright’s Language Acquisition department proves valuable.

“The growth we’ve seen in students that have technology in the classroom is phenomenal,” explains Zurita. “Some [classes] have upward of 90 percent of students showing up each day. Getting kids to school is half the battle.”

Sonia Bustamonte is the district’s Director of Language Acquisition programs. She claims if it weren’t for the support offered by Daley and Zurita, the success wouldn’t be the same.

“We set aside Title III funds each year because technology is a priority for us and we want to sustain our programs,” Bustamonte explains. “It’s refreshing to hear teachers share what they’re doing with technology in the classroom, and it makes me proud of our iPad initiative.”

The district plans to acquire more technology for their teachers and students. Bustamonte, who has been a Cartwright employee for 10 years, says they recently ordered Dell Chromebooks for all sixth-, seventh- and eight-grade writing classes to use.

As technology evolves, so does the need to equip learners with current tech tools.

Years ago, Zurita was once an ELL student in the Cartwright School District. She says with the help of technology, students are willing to take a risk, which produces confidence.

Daley, a National Board Certified Teacher, claims technology levels the playing field for ELL students.

“They are able to show what they can do in a way that’s comfortable for them,” says the Michigan native.

Increased attendance and student success is evident through teacher commitment to technology. In an effort to expand the breadth of technology integration, Cartwright has created what they call an ‘iTech professional learning community’, which spans the entire 20-school district.

“In addition to the iClass21 classrooms, we have two iTech teachers per campus. This professional learning community is like ‘teacher Disneyland’ because the group gets so excited. The way they’re able to push each other and collaborate is truly breathtaking,” Zurita boasts. “All teachers in Cartwright have their own iPads, so we provide professional development around using just one device in the classroom, and the iTech teachers can offer support to their peers.”

“Teachers don’t always have time to research the best apps, so we [as technology specialists] can assist them with this. In terms of troubleshooting, the iTech teachers are pretty savvy. They learn from each other and rise to the occasion,” Daley says.

Once teachers garner the support they need and feel comfortable, technology can be used to maximize classroom participation.

“As an ELL teacher, you have a lot on your plate. Technology is a way to duplicate yourself, providing your students with different levels of instruction. Also, technology can make you more efficient and reduce your workload, once you get a handle on it,” Daley says. “For example, a teacher can pull a group aside for reading while other students use iPads to work on a lesson that was designed for them. This duplicates the teacher’s presence.”

Still hesitant to integrate technology in the classroom? Imagine a class where you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to answer a question. Instead, students can go back and watch a pre-recorded video as many times as they need to get help."

For this reason, Zurita and Daley encourage their peers to give technology a try, reminding educational professionals that it’s okay to ask for help.

“It can be intimidating at first, but dive in. Reach out for help, even if it’s just to get an extra set of hands while using technology in the classroom,” Daley says. “Think about the spread of ability levels you can work with all at once.”

Learn more about technology integration by attending events at the Arizona K12 Center.

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