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East side Iowa City elementary schools pilot iPads

BY QUENTIN MISIAG | FEBRUARY 14, 2013 5:00 AM

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Two East Side Iowa City elementary schools are taking advantage of technology once used exclusively for leisure.

By placing iPads into the hands and classrooms of K-6 students, both Lemme Elementary and Longfellow Elementary are hoping to lead the way in the transformational experience of the 21st century classroom.

“Children can access books, letter- identification activities, record their group’s science experiment — the uses are seemingly endless,” Longfellow Principal Chris Pisarik said, noting that iPads are available in each of the 15 general-education classrooms. “[In activities] we call ‘brain breaks,’ a teacher might put up a song about the letter ‘C,’ and the kids sing and dance with the actions they are hearing and watching on the SMART Board. It’s really amazing.”

The classrooms’ use of iPads débuted in 2010. Currently, the use of the advanced technology has spilled over from the standard classroom on a day-to-day setting into the physical education, music, and art departments. The school’s Parent Teacher Association, Isabel Montgomery Trust, and the School District Foundation all contributed to provide the new technology.

Although costly, Pisarik said the technological investments are necessary for the students to be able to provide safe and adequate learning spaces. Initial purchasing of iPads, he said, cost $450 to $600.

“The delivery of instruction, student engagement, and student learning has definitely changed in a positive way over the last few years,” he said. “Our teachers, students, and families have embraced this change, and we are all impressed with the results we are seeing across the school settings.”

Less than three miles away at Lemme Elementary, interim Principal Carrie Martinez said the school’s five iPads are used to improve the educational quality and understanding. Currently, iPad use is directed solely toward the special-education department.

The district also presented a $2 million campaign Tuesday to achieve the goal of having a SMART Board, document cameras, and multimedia projectors in every classroom. This campaign began 18 months ago in a silent phase, and the equipment and installation will cost $3,400.

“They’re full of potential and allow students to create their own activities,” she said. “Teachers will use [SMART Boards} for their lessons to enhance student engagement. Students who may have not connected before with the traditional methods are more likely to be engaged now. We want students to gain independence.”

Both Pisarik and Martinez pointed out that although individual student-to-technology use will continue to increase, well-versed educators are the backbone to fostering strong learning environments.

“Our goal is to have all children achieving at high levels and to prepare them for life in the 21st century,” Pisarik said. “That responsibility falls on all of us, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for our students.”


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