A successful pilot program using computers in the classroom last year at the Paul Revere and Lincoln Schools has blossomed into a program at Revere High School (RHS) that will put an iPad in the hands of every incoming freshman this coming school year.
In the latter part of last year, the district chose to implement a test program to put computers in the hands of all the 5th graders at the Paul Revere and Lincoln.
Due to the success of that program, the boundaries are being expanded.
RHS Principal Lourenco Garcia told the Journal that the school would roll out a complete iPad program over the next four years, with the goal of putting an iPad in the hand of every student by 2016. This year, though, it will only be those in the Freshman Academy, and Garcia said students could begin picking up those tablet computers on Aug. 13th.
“We’ve got to be ahead of the curve,” said Garcia. “We’re going slow at first, but the idea down the road is to replace the textbooks eventually. The iPad, if properly used, can be used to do a lot of good things. Students can do research, get textbook information online, find pictures and retrieve meaningful information on any number of ideas.
“It’s also a way of making sure the kids have the tools and knowledge to compete in the 21st Century,” he continued. “This gets them prepared for the workforce and for college. The iPad is a powerful tool, and there’s no way we can avoid it. We’re living in a digital age.”
Garcia said the iPad is free to all freshman students at RHS, and students will get to take the devices home. The district does recommend that parents buy insurance to replace the device if it gets lost, stolen or damaged. The insurance plans offered by the school through Worth Ave Group range between $36-$51 for the year.
He also indicated that Apple representatives would be at RHS next week to train all Freshman Academy teachers on the use of the iPad.
He assured that the devices have been programmed to block any websites with negative or vulgar content, and that if any student compromises that protective system, there will be punishments as outlined in the Student Handbook.
“We cannot be falling behind with technology,” he said. “Most kids and parents have iPads or tablets at home, so why not have it at school? If they can use it at home, they can use it at school for academics.”
Meanwhile, at the elementary level, students in the fifth grade last year were able to successfully use notebook computers in the classroom – bringing about some interesting results.
Barbara Kelly, principal of the Paul Revere, said that the school is looking forward to having the computers at the fifth-grade level all year long. While students do not get to take their notebook computers home, they do get to use them and care for them during school hours. That, she said, brought about an unexpected outcome last year.
“We actually saw attendance increase at the fifth grade level,” said Kelly. “Sometimes grade 5 students had a headache or if they had a sniffle they stayed home. Now they’re here every day. They are excited to be here and they come every day ready to work on the computers. Attendance has really jumped because the students are particularly excited.”
For such a long time, many teachers and administrators have been wary about giving students individual access to computers, but with the advent of smaller computers and new educational software, it has caused many to re-think that position. At the Paul Revere, instead of chaos and constant goofing around, the computers actually helped students stay on task.
“I feel like they’re really focused with the laptops, surprisingly,” said Fifth Grade teacher Laura Peet. “The noise level in class has gone down because they’re focused so much on doing their work on the computer. They have really bypassed me in asking for help, which is nice because I don’t have to be interrupted so much. It has allowed me the ability to do what I have to do and differentiate more with students. I can be leading a reading group and I know that they are working and focused on their computers.”
In another classroom, students and teacher Deborah Larson took a quiz one day last spring. However, there were no handouts, pieces of paper or even any pencils.
Students were all taking the quiz electronically, and Larson was able to see all of their answers simultaneously. The material for the quiz had been uploaded by each student using a website created specifically for that classroom.
“It’s very effective,” said Larson. “We’re taking the quiz all together right now. We have made our own website and they can access the material for class at any time on their computer, and they can even access it at home. These are all skills they will need to have as they go forward.”
At RHS this coming year, Garcia is hoping to replicate those positive outcomes – and so far he has some excitement building.
“I talked with some of the middle schoolers and they are all excited and want to come here to RHS because they are looking forward to working on the iPad at school,” he said.
I PAD PICK-UP SCHEDULE BASED ON CHILD’S LAST NAME
•Freshman students whose last name begins withletters A – E will pick up their iPads on Aug. 13th from 3-7 p.m. in the RHS auditorium foyer.
•Freshman students whose last name begins with letters F – M will pick up their iPads on Aug. 14th from 3-7 p.m. in the RHS auditorium foyer.
•Freshman students whose last name begins withletters N – Z will pick up their iPads on Aug. 20th from 3-7 p.m. in the RHS auditorium foyer.
Please contact the school at (781) 286-8220 should you have any questions regarding iPad distribution.