During the summer of 2011, Bishop Ireton upgraded the WiFi coverage in the school to cover the entire BI campus. This brought many improvements in how technology is delivered to the community, including the ability to bring iPads into the classroom. The Library Media Center and the Technology Department pooled resources to purchase 10 iPads and the teachers and students have embraced this new innovation. Pete Davey, Director of the IT Department said that, “teachers are making deliberate steps to integrate the iPads in their classrooms. They are designing lesson plans to take advantage of the technology.”
Cathy Melanson, European history teacher, says that the iPads, “put learning in the hands of the students. They are more interested in the lessons and more invested.” She continues, “We use the IPads as an in-class research tool, as well as a collaboration tool. Students can also share their real time answers by posting on a meeting platform like MeetUp. There are several aps that are great for historical review and map reference.” She finds that about half of the students are already familiar with the technology, but that novices can zip through a brief tutorial and quickly catch on. “The touch interface is very user friendly and kids love it. I see more engagement in lessons when they are utilized.”
Jackie Martin, American history teacher, loves the iPads. She said, “The ipads have been great to use in class! The kids are able to access information right away. They provide opportunities for collaborative learning. I've had kids use them to do primary source research (Jacob Riis photos, WWI propaganda). The use of the iPads, as opposed to a computer, leads to conversations about the research.” She also used the iPads in a lesson on Pearl Harbor. She had students create twitter feeds from people who would have had different perspectives and who would have been living through the attack on Pearl Harbor. Students worked in groups to research primary sources about the day. The tweets had to be historically accurate and had to tell the story of the attack.
Students love the iPads. Junior Gillian Gavino said that, “the iPads help us to work together. We can pass it around and look at research and at pictures.” Tess McCabe said that she was not at all familiar with iPads before this class, but found that they make working together much easier. She said that everyone could look at the screen. Riley Lopez said that the use of the iPads, “are a motivation for us to finish our work, they apply to people our age.”
AP Government teacher, Marie Markussen said that, “I find that the iPads lend themselves to teaching varying levels of students. They all don’t have to be at the same place and some can move ahead quickly while others need a little more help. They can work on their own or they can collaborate easily. I am doing an assignment that the UVA Youth Leadership Initiative Center for Politics put together on how the
legislature works. The students need to research and then write a bill that would find its way through the state legislature. The program is interactive and very instructive.”
Government teacher Greg Monroe said that the iPads, “are great to use for collaboration in research. I used them when we had a class debate on the legalization of marijuana. The students had access to the internet and were able to work in groups to research the topics. The iPads are very mobile and the kids are able to pass them around. They love the touch interface.”
All of the teachers said they wished they had a full classroom set of iPads and that they would definitely be able to put them to good use. The students are enthusiastic about using them. Pete Davey said that teachers from every department are working on lesson plans for using the iPads in their classrooms. Mimi Marquet, Library Media Specialist, said that, “we held an iPad Petting Zoo for teacher training. We have purchased apps for all departments. Teacher can give the students a prompt and they can respond via the iPad in real time making it a very interactive tool for the classroom.”
Pete Davey also said that the school will be installing projectors that are capable of streaming videos directly from the iPads. The class of 2011has offered to purchase 10 additional iPads as their class gift. These iPads will enhance learning throughout the school.