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Apple Awards Mineola For iPad Genius

School district one of three in Northeast dubbed Apple Distinguished Program of the Year

In September 2010, the Mineola School District became one of the first districts on Long Island to institute iPads into the daily learning of its students. Eighty-two fifth-grade students and ten teachers received the devices.

The initiative was considered innovative among the realm of teaching and now Mineola is being recognized for its foresight into the future of education. District Superintendent Michael Nagler announced the district’s iPad program for the 2012-13 school year was selected as the Apple Distinguished Program of the Year. Apple has recognized 103 programs nationwide.

To be considered for the award, a program must be “exemplary learning environments and centers of innovation, leadership and educational excellence,” according to Nagler.

Apple will present the district with the award at a later date. Mineola hopes to establish an “iPad school” which according to district officials is the next level of its iPad revolution.

“We are only one of three schools in the Northeast to win this award,” said Nagler. “There may be 103 nationwide, but very few [up here].”

At the programs inception, the iPads were available to each Jackson Avenue School student to use at home as a learning tool and to aid them in the transition of the ever-growing area of technology. Sixth-graders now have access to the iPads.

According to a testimony by Nagler to the New York Education Reform Commission on the use of technology in the classroom, the district collected data through surveys, teacher narratives, student videos and presentations concerning technology usage.

“The question of does it increase student achievement was not as easy to quantify,” Nagler said in the testimony. “In September 2011, we expanded the pilot to include all fifth-grade students (200) who received iPads and all sixth-grade students who received net books. The same two questions were the basis of the expanded roll out, but we added a third question: does the type of device matter? Would students be as engaged in content using a net book as they were with an iPad? We used the same methodology to gather data in year one.”

Then-Jackson Avenue Principal Matthew Gaven was tasked with helping teachers institute the program. He broke the plan down into three phases.

Phase one saw teachers come back and essentially revamp the fifth grade, working in two teams with partners, which almost mirrored the middle school structure. One class period was designated as having no pullout sheets and called the iPad exploration period, allowing teachers to implement new ways of integrating the device into the curriculum.

Phase two saw the implementation of short research projects using Safari, Pages and Keynote, the Apple versions of Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word. Meanwhile, the district began exploring different applications. The third phase was to enable file sharing and communication using in-district email for each student, who can only receive emails from other Mineola school addresses.

According to past district surveys, 50 and 66 percent of students respectively found writing and reading more interesting when using iPads.