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Rollingstone iPads enhance learning (12/15/2013)
By Amelia Wedemeyer

Photo by Amelia Wedemeyer
     ollingstone Community School students Sheldon Stockhausen and

Mariah Perez use their iPads as learning resources in class.

To prepare their students for new personal, in-school iPads, the teachers of Rollingstone Community School employed the classic hard-boiled egg experiment.

“They each started out with a hard-boiled egg with a little mason jar ring that they would put on their desk,” first grade teacher Barb Rahn recalled. “We said that they had to carry it around to different rooms — and a lot of times what would happen is that they would put their desk top down and put their egg on their desk and then they would lift their desk up and the egg would fall. We kept on saying ‘you realize that this could have been your iPad.’ So actually they’re very cautious, and they take very good care of their iPads.”

Like the students’ egg experiment, the process of implementing the iPads into everyday curriculum took time, effort, and training.

“Last year, our actual goal with it was just to make the kids realize that it’s a learning tool, not just something for playing games,” second grade teacher Pam Lica said. “And I think they all became very well aware of that, that it is a learning tool.”

The Rollingstone community raised $40,000 for the purchase of the iPads, making Rollingstone Community School the first of Winona Area Public Schools to put such a device into the hands of every student.

Since the iPads arrived last December, the teachers have done their fair share of application experimentation, which had them testing out and ultimately deciding which apps were best for certain in-class projects. They have expanded their iPad use from math and reading to social studies and science. This spring they are planning on using the iPads to help create a new feature for the school’s garden.

“One of our engineering projects this spring will be to create a cage for the tomatoes on the iPad, and what we’re going to do is actually build it so we can utilize our resources,” Rahn explained. “It’s a real learning opportunity that is hands-on and can be used for the real world.”

Learning tools in action

The faces of Lica’s second grade students are softly illuminated by the glow of their classroom iPads. The day’s project, which is to write a persuasive letter to Santa Claus, is written on the touchscreen tablet in a writing application.

“It’s nice,” Lica said, lightly laughing. “I can read what they’ve written instead of trying to guess their handwriting.”

The students regularly walk around to each other’s desks, iPads conveniently in hand, and ask how to spell a certain word, share persuasion tactics, and help each other with any other problems that may arise. Meanwhile, Lica helps students one-on-one without having to answer every other second whether or not “please” or “elf” is spelled correctly; instead, the iPad underlines incorrect words. This allows the students to skip having to ask if something might be wrong in their letters, and gives them the go-ahead to correct their mistakes.

“The iPads have been great,” Lica said. “A great learning tool.”  

 

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