A group of students sits in a 12th grade math class, eyes glued and fingers hovering above small electronic devices. Some say it's the future of the classroom.
“I can tell right now it's going to help me out with the educational environment,” senior Levi Bone says. “You have the internet in your bag pretty much.”
A group of students sits in a 12th grade math class, eyes glued and fingers hovering above small electronic devices. Some say it's the future of the classroom. “I can tell right now it's going to help me out with the educational environment,” senior Levi Bone says. “You have the internet in your bag pretty much.” What the students are experiencing is a district-wide rollout of iPads, which administrators began distributing to middle and high schoolers on Monday. By the time the distribution has ended two weeks from now, 6,500 iPads will have been given out to students in grades Kindergarten through 12. 1,700 will go to high schoolers alone. “There are apps on the iPad available that enhance classroom curriculums, that help the curriculum come alive,” Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Mischel Miller said. When he performed his usual school walk-through on Tuesday, Dodge City Middle School (DCMS) Principal Mike King said he noticed iPads being used in about 95 percent of classrooms already. “What we're trying to do is get away from the paper and pencil method of doing things and put that into technology,” DCMS sixth grade science teacher Lisa Pelton said. The iPad Initiative began months ago and the district could have distributed the devices in August, but wanted to make sure that process went smoothly. So, administrators worked with the district's technology team to make sure the proper infrastructure was in place, and to adequately prepare teachers and students for the transition. At DCMS, teachers have already had the devices for one year. Students, meanwhile, have rotated through classes in math and creative writing where using an iPad was mandatory. Dodge City High School (DCHS) started training a “deployment team” of students in December, who would go on to support classroom implementation of the iPads as they arrive in students hands over the course of the next two weeks. Not all students received iPads the same way at all grade levels. At DCHS, the distribution process will take two weeks, with a third week being used as a catch up period for remaining students. At the middle schools, all iPads were distributed on Monday. At the elementary schools, iPad distribution began as early as last fall to accommodate the large number of students. What will the iPads be used for? Teachers will use them to grade assignments. In Lisa Pelton's sixth grade science class, students will use them to add diagrams to class notes. At DCMS on Wednesday, a group of students were using their iPads to create a report on the dust bowl. If a student gets behind in class, they'll be able to access old material through their iPad. According to Miller, USD 443 used no new funds to purchase the iPads. Funding came from the state as a result of increased enrollment for the 2012-2013 school year. Funds also came from money normally used for textbooks and consumables. “We are very fortunate in that the district spends wisely during the school year to allow this amazing opportunity for the students of USD 443,” Miller said. “In addition, the iPads will allow the district to reduce the amount of money traditionally spent on textbooks, computers and other items.” As the students accustomed themselves to their new devices, most seemed as if they'd spent considerable time using them before. In general, the tone was enthusiastic. “The kids are really excited and have been very respectful of the procedures and policies because they want to use [the iPads],” Pelton said.