Excitement ran high in Lollie Jensen’s third-grade class at Park Terrace Elementary School Monday morning as students were assigned their new iPads.
Jensen’s class was the first elementary class in Spring Lake Park District 16 to receive the iPads as part of the district’s initiative to get electronic learning devices into the hands of its students.
But the iPads come with responsibility, said Principal Kim Fehringer, who spoke with kids briefly before handing out the devices.
She asked the students to thank their neighbors for voting yes on an amendment approving the purchase of the technology devices and “to let them know how you appreciate the opportunity,” she said.
Fehringer said the students’ first job in receiving the devices was to be a learner. Their second job was to help the adults figure the best way to use the devices and figure a way to make a smooth transition so others in the school can get theirs.
During the 2012-13 school year, the district is phasing in a 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative. Eventually, students in grades 3-12 will receive an iPad, while students in grades K-2 will receive iPod Touches, putting a technology learning device in the hands of almost every student in the district.
The iPads will be used as tools to help schools create individualized learning environments for students and to foster more inclusivity in reaching students with special needs, according to the district. Also, the expanded program will promote equity by giving access of core academics to all students, regardless of economic status.
The devices are being introduced into schools on a phase-in basis. Seven carts of iPads were delivered to the high school Nov. 5, the same morning that the Park Terrace third-grade class received theirs.
More than 300 iPads have already been distributed to classes at Westwood intermediate and middle schools, while students in teacher Angela Skauge’s third-grade class at Northpoint Elementary School were slated to get iPads Tuesday. Woodcrest Elementary’s third-graders will receive theirs later in the month, according to Jerelyne Nemanich, the district’s instructional technology coordinator.
“Everything’s moving on schedule right now,” Nemanich said.
The electronic devices are paid for from a voter approved technology levy that brings in about $1.06 million per year for 2012. The levy was authorized for eight years at an estimated total project cost of $8.6 million over the eight-year period. Voters passed the levy November 2011.
So far, the district has leased about 1,500 devices with plans to get iPads into the hands of most second- through 12th-grade students. In total, the district plans to lease 4,010 iPads and 865 iPod Touches. Not all will be ordered initially.
The district is on target to distribute the devices to nearly every student by January 2013, according to Nemanich.
Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]