Before they went back to their own classrooms today, Hays USD 489 teachers had some learning to do themselves to make the best use of the school district’s new computers.

In March, the Hays USD 489 Board of Education approved the purchase of 817 machines with Windows platform at a cost of $126,381 per year for three years for Hays High School, and 1,322 iPads for grades 3 to 8 and 776 mini iPads for grades K-2, costing $246,433 per year for three years.

Marie Henderson, the school district’s instructional technology specialist, taught more than 50 training sessions on using new systems and applications during the summer.

The summer sessions were optional for teachers, she said.

Those who attended have “given a lot of their own time to do this.”

Krystal Randa, O’Loughlin Elementary School first-grade teacher, attended the Tuesday morning session, learning more about the Canvas computer program.

“I’m ready to start using them,” she said. “I have all my ideas, and I’m ready to go. We had six iPads last year in my classroom, so my kids have an idea how to use them. They’re as excited as I am to start using them.”

Elementary and middle school orchestra teacher Nathan Mark was “reasonably familiar” with iPads before he attended the training sessions.

He’s still working on ways to integrate it in his subject matter, but thinks it will be helpful.

Altogether, the summer sessions covered four areas.

Introduction to Canvas covered the basics and putting in the course shell and setting up a home page.

That session was the prerequisite for the Tuesday morning Canvas session where teachers learned to make assignments and grade them.

Brittany Baldwin, Roosevelt Elementary School computer lab teacher, is excited for the kids.

“I think the kids are really going to benefit from (iPads). They’ll expand on education,” she said.

“I don’t know how much we’ll use them in the computer lab, but I think outside the computer lab, they’ll be really useful.”

Lindsay Leiker, computer lab supervisor at Wilson Elementary School, teaches students keyboarding on desktops at the lab.

“Keyboarding is very important,” she said.

Students need to know keyboarding “even if they’re typing on here (iPad). It’s better than hunt and peck,” Baldwin said.

Besides the Canvas sessions, teachers learned to use the Apple TV in their rooms.

“Apple TV allows the teacher to project at the front of the room what is on their iPad screen, so they can walk a student through using an app,” Henderson said. “They can stream a video from their iPad onto the screen.”

Most of the classrooms should have Apple TVs installed. Those that don’t will have them soon, she said.

Staff members have been saving their work to their device, and iPads don’t have much storage, so Henderson taught a session in using cloud storage.

Several months ago the district purchased MicroSoft Office 365, which comes with an account for each teacher and each student in the district.

“If you have a district email address, you also now have a Microsoft Office 365 account. The lovely part of that is it comes with one terabyte of cloud storage,” Henderson said. “They’re never going to run out of storage again.”

Cloud storage is accessible anywhere; it’s not device specific.

“That is huge. We had teachers carting around their laptop. They had to have it with them if they were going to have their stuff.”

The sessions taught this summer and others will be offered again during the school year for those who couldn’t make it this summer.

Henderson already has plans for her next Canvas training sessions on making quizzes or tests, and using the security features.

Henderson was hired for the school district’s IT department in May and moved to Hays from Ellinwood in June.

Her husband, Shawn, is the director of field experience for student teachers at Fort Hays State University.

A native of Scott City, Henderson taught math and was the math instructional coach at Great Bend High School before moving to Hays.

She and her husband have two children — Mallory, 11, a sixth-grader at Hays Middle School, and Nate, 9, a fourth-grader at Roosevelt.

“We’re very excited for them to get started at Hays schools,” she said.

Her computer background started when she was teaching in Scott City and “jumped on board with technology in the classroom.”

She’s gone from helping the teachers in the classroom next door to working with computers full-time.

“It’s been a good fit for me,” Henderson said.