School Puts iPads in Hands of All Students

Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)

April 30, 2014

Third-grader Trinity Gibson’s fingers dance across the surface of her iPad, quickly opening and closing applications.

Within minutes, she’s able to complete a math problem, draw and label the angles of a rectangle, email her teacher and open a report she wrote on toucans, complete with graphics and photos of the colorful birds.

“It’s pretty cool because we can take our (reading) tests and daily math,” she said.

Students at Buckeye School of the Arts are showing that it’s not all Facebook and Angry Birds on iPads and iPhones, but also reading, writing and arithmetic.

Second- through fifth-grade students at Buckeye and freshmen at Central Valley High School have been using the Apple devices. Next year, all Gateway Unified School District students will have access to an iPad as a part of the district’s 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative—the first district in Shasta County to embrace the model that provides an iPad to every student.

All students and teachers between second and 12th grades will be provided with iPads, and kindergarten and first-grade classrooms will have access to iPad learning labs with 10 tablets. The district will begin rolling out the iPads this summer, training teachers and establishing a best-practices guide for using the technology in the classroom. Currently, the district owns 1,500 Apple devices. Next year, that will shoot up to 2,500 leased iPads, with 150 in the hands of teachers.

Classrooms are already using the iPads for almost every subject, said Scott Sorrells, director of technology services at the district. Using applications allows students to work at their own pace and explore concepts in whatever way they feel most comfortable, while supplementing traditional tools and teaching methods, he said. Using iPads promotes increased interest in learning, reduced behavioral problems, a decrease in absentee rate and high test scores for writing, according to the district’s digital technology proposal.

“It’s about student achievement,” Sorrells said.

And the curriculum is continuing to evolve. On Monday, students practiced using a new app that mimicked a geoboard—wooden boards with nails on them that students can stretch rubber bands around to study shapes. Some students created rectangles and squares, while others designed color-coded cubes.

“It’s a discovery and it’s an exploration of things,” third-grade teacher Wendy LeVier said.

For third-grade teacher Tammy Dearman, using the iPads means students are able to research ideas more thoroughly than they were three years ago. Her students recently completed research projects on animals. Students typed their reports on the iPad, then presented it with photos and graphics in a book format. They also shot and edited videos to pair with their reports.

“We’re learning new things all the time,” Dearman said. “There’s so many things. I can’t even think of all the things we use them for. We use them daily, all day, every day.”

Dearman said students quickly adapted to the new technology, and are now helping their teachers to learn more.

“It’s opened our world,” Dearman said. “There’s so many things we can do with them. It’s just unlimited.”

Fifth-grader Kaili Crye said using an iPad has helped her learn more and practice as her teacher is instructing. Crye said she uses her iPad to write notes in the margins of articles and type her assignments. That way her teacher doesn’t have to deal with sloppy handwriting, she said.

“It’s all just a fingertip away,” Crye said.

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