The Times
  • iPads advance learning for Poland third-graders

  • Third-grade Poland Central School students recently dragged their fingers across the screens of iPads as video-game-like beeping sounds bounced around the classroom.

    Students leaned over to help each other and smiled as they worked at their desks or sat on the floor. They were doing math problems.

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  • Third-grade Poland Central School students recently dragged their fingers across the screens of iPads as video-game-like beeping sounds bounced around the classroom.
    Students leaned over to help each other and smiled as they worked at their desks or sat on the floor. They were doing math problems.
    “It’s fun,” third-grader Clifton Rogers said. “And you are learning at the same time.”
    Poland Central School recently obtained 20 iPads for shared use among students in the three third-grade classes.
    The iPad project
    The iPads were part of a technology purchase supported by the Poland Board of Education in response to a teacher-led demonstration. Poland teachers Todd Manley and Tracy Graulich showcased SmartBoard technology to the school board during the 2011 - 2012 school year.
    Hearing how enthusiastic the teachers were and seeing how well other staff members have integrated technology into teaching, the board dedicated funding for the iPads and interactive whiteboards for nearly every classroom in the elementary school, Superintendent Laura Dutton said.
    The cost of the 20 iPads plus a mobility cart for the devices was about $9,200.
    The board also committed resources to securing a technology integration specialist from the Mohawk Regional Information Center, she said. “As a result, our staff have much more than just the device,” Dutton said. “They have access to best practices in using the technology in the classroom.”
    ‘Technology integration’
    Poland’s administrative team researched effective iPad integration and dedicated it would be most beneficial to place the iPads with a single grade level, elementary Principal Christopher Clancy said.
    Third grade was chosen because students are at an age where they can be responsible and independent learners, he said.
    iPads are very “personal” devices because they are designed to be customized to the individual or grade level, Clancy said. Keeping the iPads with one grade level allows each iPad to be populated with applications that are appropriate for a specific age level or the two or three students who will be using it, he said. “Powerful technology integration happens when students have regular, meaningful and purposeful access to technology,” Clancy said. “A cart of iPads shared by only a few classrooms will provide that type of experience for our students, whereas a cart that is shared by the entire district — or even an entire school — would not.”
    ‘Problem-solving skills’
    During a recent day in third-grade teacher John Allen’s class, his students used an iPad application called “Marble Math.” The students used their fingers to move a digital marble around the screen to find numbers that were the correct answers to problems. Allen walked around the room to help students understand any difficulties they would encounter.
    “I think it helps them with some of the problem-solving skills,” he said. “It’s more exciting for them.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Student Hunter Gilman said “Marble Math” is her favorite part of using the iPads. “It helps us with our addition, subtraction, multiplication and division,” she said. “You get to have fun with the game.”
    Third-grader Jace Reel agreed. “The games are fun,” he said.
    A new kind of quiz
    The iPads have more uses than games that make learning more fun.
    Student Ethan Broadbent said his favorite part is that you can take tests on the iPad.
    After the math lesson, Allen gave his students a non-graded science quiz on the iPads to gain a better understanding of their current knowledge level.
    As the students submitted their answers on the iPads, Allen was logged into a website on his desktop that allowed him to monitor student progress and immediately see which students were getting each question correct.
    “It’s great because I can see their answers in real time,” he said.
    Students also were immediately notified on the iPad whether they got the answer right or wrong and what the correct answer was.
    After the quiz, Allen downloaded the data into an Excel document and looked for patterns. On one question, he noticed more wrong answers and wondered if the wording of the question could have been better. For another, he saw students had the general idea correct, but some of them got the answer backwards — selecting 602 bones in the adult human body instead of the correct 206.
    ‘Interesting and engaging’
    The teachers received training with the iPads on Dec. 14, 2012, so they just started using them before the holiday break. Allen said there will be a learning curve, but he looks forward to discovering more iPad applications and ways to support learning.
    Students also are advancing their general knowledge of how to use technology, he said.
    “It’s huge that they’re getting familiar with this,” Allen said. “Not just for school, but if you think ahead to their careers and how many of them are going to be using this technology every day.”
    Students already regularly use technology, so the hope is the integration of iPads into their daily routine will help them use iPads as a tool for learning, Clancy said.
    “We will to teach our students how to be self-directed, intrinsically-motivated problem solvers,” he said. “I hope through the use of the iPads, they will learn how to efficiently locate and synthesize information and then present it in a way that demonstrates their understanding.”
    Clancy expects more technology-related opportunities will arise for students within the next few years — through district-provided equipment and students using their personal devices in school
    With the global trend of technology providing instant, personal access to information, it is becoming increasingly important for educators to individualize instruction for students, he said.
    Page 3 of 3 - “Devices like iPads allow teachers to do just that: develop an interesting and engaging way to create programs that respond to the needs of each student,” Clancy said.

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