All ‘tech’ed up
MANISTIQUE – A select number of Emerald Elementary students are reaching beyond the classroom this year with the help of some new technology. Each student in the school’s two third grade classrooms now has access to an iPad.
Third grade teacher Colleen Hoholik said the iPads arrived earlier this year, and both she and Cyndi Hoholik, the other third grade teacher, took a professional development day to become better acquainted with the device.
“The kids have been so excited,” she explained. “They knew from the beginning of the year that they were getting them, and every day they would ask, ‘Are the iPads here today?’”
After determining what “apps” or applications to install on the devices and how to organize the content, the iPads were introduced to the students.
“We went through a lot of training – I didn’t want them to just take them and have them right away,” she said. “They had to learn rules and responsibilities and they had to sign a contract to say how they were going to take care of it.”
Hoholik explained the students participated in a series of lessons on “digital citizenship”, which included internet safety, appropriate use, responsible posting and tips to protect passwords.
“Here at school, they are very protected, because everything’s pretty much locked down and filtered and blocked,” she said. “The issues aren’t so much at school, but we know when they go home, those same safety features aren’t there.”
After completing their lessons, the students signed contracts and were given the opportunity to explore their iPads, which are outfitted with heavy-duty protective cases.
“Right from the start, it was amazing,” Hoholik explained. “As a teacher you have these pinnacle moments that are just at the top of your list … I would say, when we moved into Emerald Elementary, it was one of the best days I’ve ever had as a teacher. Getting the iPads and watching 27 children in action, working at their level, fully engaged, was number two.”
And the interest in the devices has yet to waiver, added Hoholik. While the students still participate in plenty of group activities, she said the iPads offer a unique opportunity for the students to receive individualized instruction.
Prior to getting started on the iPad apps, Hoholik explained the students took placement tests to figure out the exact level of instruction each needed. In addition, she said she is able to monitor each student’s progress from her own iPad.
“It’s just automatically individualized instruction at a level I’ve never seen before,” she said. “When they’re finished answering a question or a set of questions (they receive) immediate feedback.”
Hoholik noted that the apps assist students who may struggle in the classroom environment.
“Level of engagement is phenomenal,” she said. “You can’t hold the attention, all the time, of a whole classroom full of students. But give them technology, give them the power to work at their level, and they are fully engaged.”
As for the success of the iPad use to date, Hoholik said this is obvious in the behavior of the students.
“I can see students who are showing pride and making sure that they’re doing their best,” she said.