Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 08 October 2010 00:00
Principal Matthew Gaven knew the kids were anxiously awaiting their new toys. He realized what was about to happen.
“We planned it so that they’d come back from recess and be surprised to see them sitting on their desks,” he said “It’s a given that they’d be excited.”
Excited is an understatement to describe Sept. 24 at the Jackson Avenue School. Eighty-two fifth grade students and ten teachers finally received their iPads. The board of education announced on June 2 that the school would receive the $500 iPads this year.
Teachers received training over this past summer to get a jump-start on the kids so they could teach them how to use the machines. But it was to no avail.
“My dad has one so I pretty much know how to use it,” one fifth grader said. “It’s really cool.”
Optional keypads will be available for in-school use only. The iPads are now available to each Jackson fifth-grade student to use at home as a learning tool and to aid them in the transition of the ever-growing area of technology. School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler said he and the minds behind the initiative posed it to the teachers as a challenge to teach on a small scale without the use of traditional education tools.
“It’s going to be fun, let me tell you,” Jackson Avenue teacher Courtney Zaleski said. “The kids are going to have fun, we as teachers will have fun and we’ll all learn in the process.”
Nagler iterated that kids interact differently today than they did yesterday and that it’s important to embrace that to create a solid learning experience. “It’s amazing,” he said. “I was trying to help a child create a background on the iPad and I hit a wall, then he said ‘I’ll handle it’ and created it himself; this tool is going to be a learning process for both teachers and students. They’ll be teaching each other.”
The iPads are filtered through the school district’s Internet so that the children can’t access any inappropriate Internet material. Furthermore, the each parent signed a contract promising to supervise his or her child while at home.
Nagler said the board of education had to give the OK before any step could be taken toward the project. The district secured money through BOCES and will pay it down in five years. Overall, the project is approximately $50,000.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “The biggest challenge as educators is motivating kids. Once you motivate them and they’re excited about learning, they learn. The beauty about this project is no one’s an expert. The kids aren’t, the teachers aren’t and everyone is going to share their expanded knowledge with everyone else.”
Students will be able to take the iPad home and use it to do schoolwork on and to better their ability of learning in and outside the classroom. “This is really putting us on the path and in front of really exciting educational change and I’m very happy to bring this initiative forward,” Nagler stated.
Nagler said there’s still a lot to learn, considering it’s impossible to predict where this technology will be in the long term, considering technology evolves by the day. With the increased use of technology in the classroom, Nagler felt it was a step in the right direction in, “moving with the times. It’s going to be exciting.”