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iPads all around, says school board

Rollout to include Grades 3-12
Oprah iPad

Students attending public elementary schools and high schools in District School Board Ontario North East have a new high tech tool to help them with their education – the iPad.

School Board Trustees were given three video presentations that highlighted the success of the iPad in the classroom at yesterday’s school board meeting in Schumacher.

The 1:1 iPad program was launched this past September for Grade 7-10 students including special needs students.

It will be expanded to include all students from Grades 3-12.

“It’s achieving the goals of we hope to see,” said Doug Shear Board Chair. “We are very, very pleased with the program.”

“This month is a rollout for grade 7-10 special education students who haven’t had an iPad or a laptop before,” said Steve Pladzyk, the superintendent of special education for the school board. 

“We have access for everyone and no one is left out,” Pladzyk said. 

The use of the iPad gives students more confidence to complete assignments especially those who have problems with handwriting said “ i-coach” Dana McBride one of three who have been assigned by the board to train teachers in the use of the iPad.

“Taking notes is great because the presentations on the smart boards have slide shows or diagrams and you can always take notes so you take a picture it’s all great,” said a student interviewed in the video. “We wouldn’t be able to take hand written notes fast."

Students are able to take the iPad home, access assignments and complete them and hand them in even if they don’t have a computer in their home, noted a teaching assistant who is also a mother of a Grade 9 student in the video. 

A literacy program teacher said she found the iPad really helped increase student engagement and submission of materials because of the easy access and accessibility for the students. 

“They can do voice overs, audio clips,” she said in the video. “It’s freed me up to sit with the student, go over the material and truly help them understand the curriculum.

McBride said the iPad helps engage special needs and partially integrated students they love having the iPad to record assignments for the teacher in their electronic folders. 

But the iPad also helps all students.

“iPads help bring innovation to education and cultivate a passion for learning,” said i-coach Kelly Sharpe.

In some classes teachers have implemented “genius hour” as a way to reward and encourage students to delve more deeply into subjects they are passionate about. 

Sharpe pointed to one student’s use of the iPad to produce an intricate project for geography on the James Bay Lowlands that incorporated detailed graphics on its structure.

“Students can share their success with their parents as their work is recorded and stored on the iPad,” Sharpe added.

From the teacher’s perspective, the iPad enables them to provide quicker feedback to students. It also enables them to keep students who missed a class up-to-date with their lessons

“One teacher complained that as soon as she gave feedback the student could respond and she didn’t want them to respond at night, but isn’t that what we want to receive immediate feedback?” said Jill Plaunt, the i-coach for the Kirkland Lake and Englehart area . 

Plaunt noted the effectiveness in engaging students such as a hearing impaired grade 4 student who was having difficulties with her school project on erosion.

Through use of the iPad she was able to find information and handed in a successful assignment.  

​“By rolling out the iPad we wanted to make sure that we have a level playing field for all students and they all have the same technology together,“ said Board Chair Doug Shearer.

Another long term benefit according to Shearer is that it better prepares students for post-secondary education and the work force. Colleges and universities don’t have paper based learning. It’s all technology now.

Frank Giorno

About the Author: Frank Giorno

Frank Giorno worked as a city hall reporter for the Brandon Sun; freelanced for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. He is the past editor of and the newsletter of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers.
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