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Posted: 03/26/14

Elementary recipient of
second wave of technology

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      The second wave of technology has landed into the hands of Romeo Community Schools elementary students.
       A total of 540 iPad Airs were given to students at Hamilton-Parsons Elementary on March 18, marking the first of five distributions that will provide iPads to all K-5 students.
       The iPads were purchased through the voter-approved $16.4 million technology bond in November, with the first batch programmed and ready to go last week.
       Superintendent Nancy Campbell said technology staff told her the distribution went smoothly despite a dilemma with iPad cases. In order for Hamilton-Parsons to receive the devices, the district had to buy extra cases for 40 iPads before they were rolled out.
       Campbell said once the shipment of 2,100 red protective cases arrive for the remaining iPads they will swap out the temporary ones.
       "We are calling every day to see if they made it through customs," she said. "Everything is dependent on the cases coming in."
       Even with the hiccup, Principal Robert Maedel said it was exciting to be the first school to receive the iPads, and was thankful for the support given by technology staff members as they were rolled out.
       "We know there are going to be bumps along the way, so we'll work through them," he said.
       He said the distribution differed from the secondary level where grades 6-12 students received Chromebooks, especially since the elementary students are at a younger age.
       "Every grade level is going to be a little bit different," Maedel said. "Kindergarten teachers are going to take a little longer to put it into their hands."
       The district is providing carts to house any iPads that will remain at the school as opposed to students taking them home.
       Regardless of grade level, students were given instructions on how to use the devices and how to care for them. Melissa Ternes, a second-grade teacher, broke the devices in by having her students learn how to take photos and videos.
       "I'm excited, I think it's going to be a great educational tool," she said.
       She said she is looking forward to using the IXL, XtraMath and eSpark programs to enhance learning, namely in mathematics.
       "Right now we do work in the computer lab at the end of the day and we only have 15 minutes to do a math program," she said.
       Students even used the iPads in gym class. Coach Joe Hallman had students record each other doing push-ups to see if they had proper form, while an interactive app had them run in place to pedal a virtual bike.
       "I think it's fantastic, it's a new way to teach," Hallman said. "Any time you throw something new at students they love it."
       Justin Apley, a fifth-grade student, said he likes being able to play games on the iPad, but has used it for schoolwork at home and in class.
       "I think it's good technology in the school," he said. "I use it for work and I play on it."
       A technology committee made up of staff from around the district provided assistance to teachers, taking notes to improve the next distribution.
       Amanda Rocha, an instructor at Indian Hills Elementary, served as a committee member. She said overall the teachers handled the distribution well, treating the devices as an additional tool.
       "It's a lot of teacher preparation to make sure they understand the lessons that we created for them so they can teach the students," she said. "The students are excited as well."
       She said the devices will help replace heavy textbooks and give students a chance to express creativity.
       "I think a lot of people with iPads think of a game or an app, but it's using that app to create a video, even a photo collage," she said.
       The next school to receive the devices is Indian Hills Elementary on April 1, followed by Hevel, Amanda Moore and Washington elementary schools.


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