Merrill Area Public School investigating ?One to One Technology?
Third grade students at Kate Goodrich and Washington Elementary are looking towards the future of learning with mobile technology. When students returned to the classroom this year, they received an additional tool from their teachers to help them with their learning, an Apple iPad.
Over the past five years, the district has been looking into opportunities to bring mobile technology to their students. It started with introducing an open campus wireless network at Merrill High in 2008, according to Technology Director Michael Giese.
“We wanted to give the students the opportunity to bring in their own equipment and have access to Internet at anytime,” he said.
From that start, the technology department focused their attention on upgrading the existing infrastructure to support the demands which would be needed in the future with the addition of wireless network and devices at all district locations. The completion of that plan allowed the district to move forward with the purchase of mobile devices.
The decision to go with iPads came from a team of district personnel who investigated one to one technology and traveled to other districts to see what was available. One of the schools that really impressed them was Franklin Elementary in Wausau.
“Principal John Euting and his staff were very welcoming and accommodating to our visits last year. It was great for our 3rd grade teachers involved in our pilot to see the students at Franklin using their iPads and so engaged in their learning. We look forward to collaborating with the staff at Franklin school as we begin to implement our 3rd grade pilot at Washington and Kate Goodrich,” said Kate Goodrich Elementary Principal Mark Jahnke.
Introducing the students to the iPad is a joint effort with teachers and the district technology integration specialist Jim Hostvedt.
“Each week the third grade teachers and myself meet to plan out meaningful lessons for their students,” Hostvedt said. “We look at their current curriculum, state standards, and the needs of the students.
“By keeping the goal of the lessons in mind, we think of ways we can embed technology, including the iPad, into their lessons making it look seamless and engaging for their students. We then meet with their students and teach the lessons as the students use their iPads to reinforce the concepts of the lessons,” Hostvedt added.
At this time, the device will not be going home with the students. According to Washington Elementary Principal Paul Klippel, “Right now, we want the focus to be using the iPads as a technology tool to promote learning in the school setting. When students become more familiar and comfortable using the device, we will get input from parents on the possibility of the iPads being sent home at night.”
Over the school year, the district will be collecting data from the third grade staff, students and parents involved in this pilot. This will help the district leadership team to focus their strategic plan for mobile technology and student usage to ensure that Merrill Area Public School students continue to receive the academic excellence that the community expects.