“The children are better than the teachers with the iPads,” said Cedar Creek Community School teacher Sandy Benson.
Benson is just one of the kindergarten teachers utilizing the iPads with her students this year.
The district-wide initiative aims to put iPads in the hands of its beginning learners to stimulate growth, curiosity and use of technology.
In all, close to 60 iPads have been placed in the kindergarten classrooms and the students and teachers are reaping the benefits.
“Our schools have been very creative in their use of the labs, especially to meet the individual learning styles of each child,” said Benson.
“The general academic outcomes for the iPad labs in our kindergarten classrooms are exposure and growth with technology and academic support in content areas,” said Darin Hahn, Cedar Creek Community School principal.
“At this early age we believe that students can utilize technology to assist their learning.”
For example, teacher Michelle Roy uses the free application “Chalkboard” with her kindergartners at East Bethel Community School (EBCS).
The app “allows children to practice spelling sight words and (decoding) words, along with writing sentences,” Roy said.
“We have several phonics apps that reinforce our phonic/phonetic skills very well. We also have a free ‘Numbers’ app that has several games to reinforce number skills that we’ve been workings on and ‘Caboose Express’ that practices patterns.”
At St. Francis Elementary (SFE) School teacher Julie Wieczorek also uses the iPads to record students reading, as well as using the video and photography functions.
The iPads are organized into “centers” for student use.
At EBCS, for example, 20 iPads are distributed among the five kindergarten classes.
Sometimes the teachers group their iPads to create larger labs. These labs are used almost every day and each student gains access to them at least once a week.
“We use them to reinforce skills that we’ve worked on, both in reading/language arts and math,” said Roy.
At CCCS, teacher Kathi Greene shares her iPads with teacher Julie Kellerman.
“Julie and I share a set of six. We use them in small groups on alternating days. (We) primarily use them for reading, working on segmentation, sight word recognition, onset and other pre-reading skills,” Greene said.
Overall, the program seems to be working.
“Our students love them,” said EBCS teacher Leslee Kleinke-Yseth.
“Many of them do not have computers at home and it is novel that we use them for learning instead of just games.”
“The parents are also excited about the use of iPads as a learning tool. In fact, we have generously received over $100 in iTunes gift cards from families to use for new apps for our students.”
“It has been great that our students use iPads to acquire key concepts and reinforce both their knowledge and enthusiasm for learning. Students utilize technology in their daily lives, so being able to use it in their learning activities makes the learning relevant at many levels, Hahn said.
Editor’s note: This story was written by Steve Fetzik, St. Francis High School community relations person.