Coppell ISD using apps to connect students, parents and teachers

Apps
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Nancy Garvey says there is a name for the newest round of kindergartners starting school.

Coppell Independent School District's director of instructional technology calls them "digital native," meaning they've grown up knowing how to use phones and devices.

"It's the reality of it and we have an opportunity here to use that to create the best curriculum possible," Garvey said.

Garvey and her technology team have spent the last few years searching for educational apps. Programs like "Flip Grid" and "Apple Clips" allow middle and high school students to create video projects to share while apps like "Seesaw" are used to for elementary aged students to document their work and share with their parents.

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Robin Carter's son Charlie first showed his mom "Seesaw" last year when he was in kindergarten. It allows Charlie's teachers to take a video of his work and send it to his parents.

Carter, who is a photojournalist at WFAA, says the video clips are like a digital scrapbook.

"It's just amazing, I'll be at a shoot and get a notification, and I look down and there he is reading. It just brightens my day," Carter said.

Garvey says the idea with apps like "Seesaw" is to get parents and students on the same page. It also helps moms and dads continue education when the child is at home.

"You won't have those dinner table moments where you ask a kid how their day was and they say 'fine.' Now parents know what they're doing and they can talk about that," Garvey said.

"Seesaw" also allows parents to comment on the progress posts and even share them via email or social media with family. Carter says she routinely sends updates to her parents across the country.

"They love to see that and how he's growing," Carter said.

For Garvey, digital literacy and apps are tools to promote education, but she says the district is also focused on showing children how to use technology and when.

"We want to create whole humans here. These devices can be good, but we're also writing the rules on how best to use them and when to draw that line with technology," Garvey said. 

For parents like Carter, the apps are already working. And as her son gets ready to start first grade, she's looking forward to more milestones and notifications on her phone.