Revere adds Apple TVs to common rooms

Charlie Messner, Reporter

Revere installed new Apple TVs in the high school common rooms to aid independent group work by allowing students to share their screens.

When discussing the importance of Apple TVs, it is necessary to first understand the function of the common rooms. John Schinker, Revere Director of Technology, explained.

“They were really intentional when designing this school to develop flexible spaces, so you can have spaces where we’re presenting content to students, and we’ll see that in our classrooms, but also where students can work independently and quietly, where students can work in a group and develop things as a group, and those kinds of spaces are the source of things that we’re looking for in these common areas,” Schinker said.

The common rooms each have a quiet, open space available for individual work that branches off into smaller, closed sections designed for group work. Technology plays an important role in making these spaces as convenient as possible.

“The goal with the technology is to be ubiquitous and invisible, so it’s there when we need it, and it’s out of the way when we don’t . . . We want to reduce as much friction as possible to make it easier for you to do your work,” Schinker said.

One important element of most group work is presenting information over a shared screen.

“We just want it to be available for students so if you’re working together on a group project or trying to collaborate you can share without having to look over each other’s shoulders and share an iPad screen,” Schinker said.

The initiative to install these TVs was actually started by students, for students.

“Some students brought up during the school year [last year] that it would be helpful to have Apple TVs in some of those conference rooms so that students can share work with each other and collaborate on stuff,” Schinker said.

Before Apple TVs, student options were limited. Leigh Haynam, English teacher, recounted her experience.

“[Last year,] they were able to hook up their iPads with a cord, but they didn’t share the audio—we didn’t have the right cord for that. So this year, I personally requested the right cords so we would be able to get the audio, and that’s when I was told they were going to install the Apple TVs,” Haynam said.

Now that they are installed, the Revere community has found many uses for them. Lily Dunn, Revere freshman, reported using them in her APUSH class.

“The teacher has been gone for a couple days, and he was able to send in screencasts, so we were still able to have a lesson and discuss amongst the group,” Dunn said.

They aren’t just for absent teachers, though. The self-paced discussion that the TVs provide is very intentional.

“I used the Apple TVs in the common areas to guide group discussions. In the honors English 10 class, I had video tutorials that would tutor the students, and then they could pause and discuss. It was more teacher directed, and over the course of the novel, I would ask questions and they would then have a text on the apple TV that they would analyze. So it increased the quality of conversation while I would just facilitate and listen in on the conversation and guide them,” Haynam said.

In fact, the use of Apple TVs extends even outside the duration of the school day.

“They’re really available to anyone using the spaces, so, we envision that that would be students who are in classes and working in the extended learning spaces as part of their classes, and also students working in groups before and after school, so any kind of afterschool activities can use those spaces,” Schinker said.

The new options that this technology has opened up for the common rooms has been well-received by both students and faculty. Splitting up into groups has always been a tactic teachers use so that students can help each other, share their thoughts and create bigger projects.

“It allows students to go at their own pace… so the different groups can delve into the chapters more, or at their own pace, or with their own style. It also gets students more engaged—think about a traditional classroom where you might have a whole class discussion of 25 students. Very few are actually talking, whereas in small groups around the TV, you have a high number of students talking throughout the class period, which is good engagement,” Haynam said.

But in situations where technology and especially a shared screen is required, group work wasn’t always an option—until now. Saumya Mahajan, Revere freshman, explained her opinion.

“They give us a sense of independence where we can teach ourselves. It’s really nice,” Mahajan said.

Teachers have noticed positive student reception.

“The students like the opportunity to talk about literature, and the questions help guide them to cover things they may not have gotten to discuss,” Haynam said.

Ultimately, the purpose of the Apple TVs is to enhance the group discussions students have, a goal teachers agree they have met.