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iPads in the Classroom
Posted 02/21/2012 02:00PM

Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them. – Steve Jobs

With those words of introduction, Bishop O’Connell teacher, Janis Sposato, opened the doors to a rolling cart and revealed a set of Apple iPads to her AP Psychology class. One by one the students came forward to claim a unit and then return to their desk to begin the day’s assignment. In no time students quickly familiarized themselves with their devices and began working on the assignment for the day.

In this AP Psychology class early in January, students used a review book companion app specifically designed for the iPad. This app allows students to take an interactive quiz on topics that had already been studied in class. Students received immediate feedback on their devices, with detailed explanations in real time.

That same day, Sposato’s European History classes used a concept mapping app to review key topics in preparation for the upcoming mid-term exams. The software allowed students to link certain key terms with other concepts and make adjustments and rearrangements effortlessly.

For these students, the ability to make changes on the fly made this iPad exercise a hands-down winner over their traditional pencil and paper notes.

Earlier in the week, Francis Garvert led her AP Biology classes through a series of online activities and textbook resources using the classroom set of iPads to preview an upcoming lab focused on population genetics. The students worked individually on their iPads, but shared their results with each other to enhance their learning experience.

Right now, this set of iPads is making its rounds in the hallways of O’Connell. Teachers interested in integrating this technology into their curriculum must submit lesson plans to the administration for approval. Once approved, they work with the IT department to coordinate the logistics, making sure the appropriate apps have been installed on each iPad and that the set is available when requested.

“To the majority of students, this technology is nothing new,” commented Sposato. “Devices like smart phones and tablets are commonplace in everyday life. What is new for these students is the opportunity to use this technology in their classrooms, not only using the apps and resources we provide, but also giving them the ability to use internet resources to quickly look up new terms or unknown concepts.”

“Observing the students using the iPad resources, I was able to readily gauge which students needed more help and which students were ready to move on,” added Garvert. “The opportunity for differentiated instruction is quite promising.”

This classroom iPad set—the very generous gift of an anonymous donor—includes 30 iPads with covers and a special docking station/rolling cart which synchronizes and charges the devices.

Even before this set was delivered to O’Connell, Carol Renaghan’s multimedia class saw the potential for these devices in a purely artistic way. Students borrowed mobile devices from family, friends and staff members to form an impromptu band the week before the Christmas break. After only a few hours of familiarization and practice, the iPad and iPod Touch carolers strolled the hallways, playing the piano, bells, guitars and various percussion instruments to the tune of Feliz Navidad.

Junior Madison Carter sums up the sentiments of many students: “Using the iPads makes learning more fun and enjoyable.”

“The response by faculty and students has been overwhelming as we pilot this mobile device program for the classroom,” remarked President Katy Prebble. “Technology is a fully integrated aspect of our students’ lives.  As educators we hold the responsibility to value technology as we prepare students for 21st century jobs."

View a slideshow of our students using iPads in the classroom on our YouTube channel.

To see a video of the impromptu iPad band in action during the holidays, visit http://youtu.be/kyv-zzxAwXY.

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