The Platteville School District began a project this year to give seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade students iPads for their classroom work.
With the first quarter of the 2013–14 school year having ended at the end of October, how is the iPad project working?
Three teachers who use the iPads — seventh-grade science teacher Denise Huser, eighth-grade reading and language teacher Caitlin Rosemeyer, and Platteville High School history teacher Jacob Crase — gave the School Board a tour of iPad instruction Monday night.
The School Board in May voted to spend $200,000 to implement the pilot phase of the school district’s One-to-One Student Technology Purchase and Program, to give 340 seventh- through ninth-graders iPads.
The iPads use E-Backpack software to collect answers, as well as Socrative software for student assessment.
One thing the iPads allow is quick assessment of how a student is doing.
“You can set it up so students get immediate feedback,” said Huser.
“In a very quick glance I can see what percentage of my students are not understanding a concept” based on their answers to questions, said Rosemeyer. “Something that used to take a day or two now takes us five minutes.”
Crase said his students are writing more than his students did last year.
“You can do multiple-choice, true/false, short answer,” he said. “It really helped me add more writing into my class” through extended-response answers to questions.
Crase said the iPads also allow teachers to leave either verbal or typed comments for students.
Rosemeyer gave an example of how the iPads can work between classes. She said science teacher Steve Olenchek asked her to work with his students on a science writing project to improve the writing in the projects.
Crase said having the iPads and their software also allows projects to be completed faster. Before the iPad, projects took “a much longer period of time,” he said.
Huser said the iPads “increase the capacity for project-based learning.”
During the next semester, Crase hopes to create digital portfolios so students “hopefully can see growth in their writing.”
“Will this support reading habits?” asked school board member Abulkhair Masoom. “Reading has value to it. … We are cutting down on processing time … but how much processing are they doing” instead of “just collecting information.”
“In the last two months I am not seeing a decline in the amount students are reading,” said Rosemeyer.
Use of iPads is expected to expand to sixth grade next year and eventually 11th and 12th grades.