Students begin learning with latest technology

Sunday, March 4, 2012
Gideon sixth grade students, Madison McGinley, Erika Shock and Chris Wyman use their new iPads, supplied by a technology grant, to prepare class and homework assignments. Fourth through seventh grade students at Gideon School are curently using 95 iPads to compliment traditional learning. (Courtney Luke ~ Daily Dunklin Democrat)

By Courtney Luke

Daily Dunklin Democrat

Some students at Gideon School have been enjoying one of the latest technological advancements while completing their homework assignments.

Thanks to a Title II competitive technology grant, 95 iPads have been supplied to fourth - seventh graders. Currently, these tablets stay at the school, but administration is pursuing arrangements, including an off-site filtering system, to allow the students to take them home.

District Superintendent Dr. David Hollingshead explained that one year from now, the district hopes all students in grades 4 to 12 will have access to a personal iPad.

Gideon School District had already made the decision to begin purchasing tablets of some sort and allotted for the expense in the annual budget. The grant allowed for that process to speed up and the budgeted funds will now go toward expansion of the program.

Their focus is to use the iPad as an instructional tool to promote creativity and 24/7 learning opportunities for their students.

Administration consulted with other schools about what type worked for their districts and were able to avoid some of the errors the other districts had made. Following the lead of those districts, the school offered an optional Tablet Protection Plan. For long term district students, the plan provides an opportunity for parents to potentially receive more value back than the cost of the protection plan if a child graduates from Gideon School District and does not file a claim on the protection plan.

The school has implemented a Success-for-all Learning Program in which they desire "to prepare students for their future, a world of digital technology and information." The school believes that as we enter the 21st Century, excellence in education requires that technology is seamlessly integrated throughout the educational program. They plan to increase access to technology and feel that it is a necessary learning tool of the 21st Century student.

They believe that the individual use of tablets is a way to empower students to learn at their full potential and to prepare them for the real world of college and the workplace. The tablets encourage students to solve problems and think critically by stimulating analytical thinking.

Elementary School Principal Dr. Alicia Shaw feels as though the learning tablets have generated a zeal for learning amongst the students.

"It has definitely created a new level of motivation on the part of the students," she explained.

In Mrs. Woolverton's sixth- grade class, the iPads have been used to assist with math, science, english, and nearly every other subject offered.

The last week of February, the sixth graders used their iPads to research and expand debates to support three different tobacco topics. They have also been able to present visual reports and use a program entitled Book Creator in which they can write and develop their own stories.

Woolverton explained that the students are able to connect with each other and watch their partner for various projects. During math, they can assign problems for the other to solve and then check the answers all the while using their own iPad.

"I like that they can email me their project, that they can email their finished work," she explained.

Fifth grade students are filming and editing iMovies for History Day presentations.

Dr. Shaw pointed out that technology advances quickly, even in education, and it is important that students know how to use that technology. She also stated that Dr. Hollingshead and the director of instruction, Susan West, are both progressive with their mindset and are constantly seeking out advancements in the learning system.

Shaw explained that quite often, parents are leery of learning methods different from what they experienced, but an opportunity such as this can be used to the betterment of the student.

The school emphasizes that technology does not diminish the vital role of the teacher, but instead transforms the teacher from a director of learning to a facilitator of learning.

"It is so exciting, especially for a small school," she stated.

Hollingshead also explained that there is a great deal of professional development involved for the teachers to be prepared to use the iPads in a classroom setting.

He also explained that the tablets provide a link between the classroom and the home.

"Learning opportunities don't stop at school."

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