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TMCNet:  Twin River students get iPads

[September 10, 2012]

Twin River students get iPads

GENOA, Sep 10, 2012 (Columbus Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Apple iPads have arrived at Twin River Public Schools.

The district purchased 360 of the devices for its student body.

Superintendent Don Graff said the initiative to bring the tablet-style devices to the school district was driven by the school board, which began floating the idea of introducing iPads to students in 2010 after attending conventions where technology-centered learning took center stage.

"Our board members have been a very instrumental part of this process," Graff said.

Graff said he and his principals went to an autism conference where a presentation highlighted the value of an iPad to target this type of student's unique learning style.

"We watched examples of children with autism using iPads ... and it created a positive climate for those kids to learn," he said. "And we came back very excited and shared with our special education instructors." As a result, students with autism at Twin River currently receive instruction on iPads.

Twin River's instructors have been using iPads to craft lessons since last February. Elementary Principal Tod Heier said his instructors have been using the devices to incorporate technology into their curriculum.

"For example, in the Spanish classroom, there are sites that the teachers take them to in town where you can see the square in Spanish," he said. "Our history teachers are able to use CNN's website to look at current events." Graff said the devices are being used in concert with Promethean boards, an interactive white board product akin to the SMART Board.

He said offering the students the same tool will further enhance curriculum.

"We really want iPads to become an easy extension of the learning process," Graff said. "I believe they lend themselves to that." On the device's role in the future of a Twin River classroom, "no more textbooks. Kids will have their iPads," Heier said, referencing the device's dynamic textbooks with features like interactive graphics and video embedded in the pages.

The iPads were purchased for a total of $220,000, which will come from the district's general fund and some assistance from disability education grants. This amount includes infrastructure upgrades, such as school-wide wireless Internet, and will be paid over three years.

Graff said the district still is negotiating with Apple on the possibility of a discount for the purchase.

Students in grades seven through 12 will be able to leave campus with their iPad. Fifth- and sixth-graders will be able to take them home after they've demonstrated responsible use of the device.

The two carts of iPads that serve kindergarten through fourth-grade students at Genoa and Silver Creek will remain at their schools.

"These kids are in a different mindset than I was 50 years ago, than 10 years ago even," Graff said. "We need to aspire to get into the world of our children, as they aren't really too interested in ours." For Graff and his fellow administrators, that isn't just a slogan, but a mandate. Heier has been using iPads in his teacher in-services to help instructors show their work, as well as in classrooms where the device's camera will film a student's presentation after Heier takes notes on his classroom observation.

Graff said the iPad's spreadsheet software is helping him keep Twin River's fiscal house in order.

___ (c)2012 the Columbus Telegram (Columbus, Neb.) Visit the Columbus Telegram (Columbus, Neb.) at www.columbustelegram.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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