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Layne Gabriel
Layne Gabriel's Article

5 Ways to Improve iPad Performance

iPad with low battery warning

Technology is a great tool for learning at home or in-person, and while hiccups happen, there are little tweaks you can make to help stay connected in class. Discover our quick and easy tips to keep your iPad running smoothly.

Take Charge 
Plug the iPad in overnight to charge and during breaks throughout the day so you’re always able to be connected.

Work on WiFi
If you have access to a WiFi network, turn off Cellular Data (LTE internet access) while the iPad is connected to WiFi. This helps preserve battery life while speeding up downloads and improving streaming.

Be Mindful of Videos
iPad batteries drain faster while streaming video. If you’re low on power, keep unnecessary streaming to a minimum until you can charge back up.

Dial Back the Brightness
The brighter the screen, the quicker the battery drains. Use the Control Center or Settings app to turn down your brightness to preserve power. 

Tidy Up
Just like a physical work space, iPads work more efficiently when things are orderly. Close out unused tabs in Safari and clear your cache and cookies to improve performance. 

Still feeling sluggish? Restart your iPad first, then contact your teacher or school for additional technical support if needed.

Investing in Staff Cultivates New Educators

Summer Hospodka teaches kindergarten virtually from her classroom

Summer Hospodka has supported students in Omaha Public Schools’ classrooms for nearly three years, but the 2020-21 school year brings an exciting new chapter as a teacher. The Chandler View Elementary kindergarten educator credits the Para to Teacher Career Ladder Program for getting her there.

Hospodka first learned of the program from Principal Elizabeth Holland at Pawnee Elementary when she interviewed to become a paraprofessional. She had already earned a scholarship to another college, but what she heard about the Para to Teacher program prompted her to reconsider her future.

“Everyone spoke so highly of it, so I decided to … apply for the para to educator program and cross my fingers and toes and hope that I got in,” Hospodka said.   

Omaha Public Schools and area universities created the accelerated program to help district paraprofessionals earn a K-8 endorsement and start a teaching career. The district covers the cost for paras who work in district schools and continue their employment for at least three years after graduation. Flexible class times allow aspiring teachers to balance home, work and school.

For Hospodka, the courses she took through Midland University helped build on the skills she learned as a para. 

“Classroom management is a huge one,” she said. “As a para, you do some things, but learning through the courses at Midland just how to set up your classroom and do the behind the scenes type things that maybe as a para you don’t get to see. Having that helped bring it all full circle.”

Hospodka’s class of 20 varied in age and experience and included attendees from across the district. Having a diverse group helped enhance skills they had already learned working as paras in the classroom. 

“You could bounce so many different ideas off of other people through different buildings and different grades, so you were always learning and collaborating,” she said. “If you were at a traditional school and not working as a para, just going to school, you don’t have the same experiences.” 

Though Hospodka had plenty of classroom experience, the program helped her become more confident stepping into a new role. 

“The nice thing is I have my para school, I have my student teaching school … and now, having a new school that I’m working at, I have so many avenues and resources to get help,” she said. “I think that’s one of the biggest things about the para to teacher program. You just have so much help and people rooting for you. That’s a huge plus.”

Hospodka encourages others in the district to follow her path. After completing the program, graduates are eligible for a Nebraska teaching certificate and program graduates who work in Omaha Public Schools are guaranteed an interview for a classroom position.

“Don’t let age be a factor – it’s never too late to chase your dreams,” she said. “We had a variety from 21 years old all the way up to 60 years old in our program. If you want to be a teacher, if you have that passion for kids, just do it. Take that chance. Take that leap because being able to collaborate with other paras and then have your dream job is pretty amazing.”

Applications will open later this semester. District paraprofessionals interested in the program can reach out to LaTasha Muhammad, Staff Development Coordinator at latasha.muhammad@ops.org for more information.

Update: Weekly Family Support Center

UPDATE 8/25/20:
The Family Support Center will be open weekly at Morton Middle School. See details below.

We know that families may have questions about the 100% remote learning instructional model. Never hesitate to reach out to your child’s school if you have questions that may be answered by phone or email. 

Understanding that some solutions may require in-person assistance, our District has decided to continue offering a Family Support Center weekly through September. This will be a one-stop shop to help families start the school year successfully. Families will be able to work with nutrition services, technology support staff, counselors and other staff to answer any questions they may have.

Morton Middle School Cafeteria
-    Aug. 31 (Monday)
-    Sept. 8 (Tuesday)
-    Sept. 14 (Monday)
-    Sept. 21 (Monday)
-    Sept. 28 (Monday)
Each session runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The following services will be available for families
-    School Support Liaisons
-    Bilingual Liaisons
-    Counselors
-    Social Workers
-    Nutrition Services – to assist with meal applications and Meals2Go information
-    Technology Support 
-    Student and Community Services

Health and Safety Precautions
All visitors will be required to wear facial coverings while at any of the Family Support Centers. We ask all staff and families to maintain distance whenever possible for the health and well-being of everyone.

Technology Support
In addition to in-person supports, the district has produced several videos to help families navigate District provided iPads. To review resources, click here.

Update: Remote Learning for Early Elementary Students

Throughout the Responsible Return to School planning process we have shared that the 100% remote learning instructional model is intended to look different than what our staff and students experienced in the spring. We took our lessons learned from the spring and applied them to our fall planning. As part of our commitment to provide the best educational opportunities for our students, we continue to evaluate our practices and procedures and will evolve throughout the process. We also value the feedback we have received from stakeholders. We appreciate the continued partnership and flexibility of teachers and families.

Here is an update on adjustments we will be making to remote learning for students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade. 

Adjusted Daily Schedules for Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade Students
Beginning the week of Aug. 24, we are asking early elementary staff to adjust the daily schedule of students. Schedules will be adjusted to prioritize instructional time that includes more frequent and longer breaks. This change is ONLY being made for kindergarten, first grade and second grade students. There will be no adjustments to other grade levels at this time. 

Moving forward, students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade will be asked to be online for approximately half the day. More frequent and longer breaks will be built into the day. The focus of live instruction will be on reading, writing and math. In order to allow additional breaks and time away from a device, specials, social studies and science will continue but will be optional opportunities for families during remote learning. We encourage families to participate but understand students may need a longer break on particular days.  

Half of the day will be dedicated to 1 on 1 instructional support from teachers and paraprofessionals. Teachers and paraprofessionals will each provide 1 on 1 instruction with all students throughout the week.  Students will receive at least 20-30 minutes of individualized support each week. We believe this adjusted schedule prioritizes instructional time while accounting for less screen time and allowing for necessary breaks for younger students.

Special Education
Students in special education will continue to receive services. There may be adjustments to the delivery time and methods. Look for additional information from your child’s school. 

Grades will continue to be assessed for reading, writing and math. More details will be shared on grading practices for optional opportunities for families. 

Next Steps
Schools are working to make these adjustments to student schedules. Once the information is finalized, they will be sharing more details with families. The changes will begin no later than Wednesday, Aug. 26.

We look forward to learning with students in-person when it is possible to do so. We are actively planning and preparing for that time. We continue to monitor health conditions in our community and will communicate updates to families as we are able. As we plan for our return, we are continuing to evaluate our procedures. The activities and daily schedule must and will look different in each instructional model to accommodate current health and safety conditions and staff bandwidth. 

We are committed to ongoing communication with our staff and families. We appreciate the feedback shared so far and we look forward to strong partnerships that ensure strong supports and opportunities for our students.

Your student's school and teacher will be in touch with additional information the week of Aug. 24. Please do not hesitate to contact them with questions.