Teachers Bring Kids Apples; Kids Use iPads, iPods to Study Science, Literature

Article excerpt

Byline: Topher Sanders

There wasn't a single textbook on any of the students' desks in Dusty Skorich's chemistry class at Oakleaf High School.

Instead each student wielded iPods and manipulated molecules with the touch of their fingers while Skorich used an iPad to teach the course.

It's an example of how two districts in Northeast Florida are using touch technology to engage students with the hope of boosting academics.

And according to the students, the districts can definitely put a check mark in the engagement box.

"I like it; it's different," said Kiahna Young, 17, a junior in Skorich's class. "We get to use new technology and it's more interesting to us than looking through a book all day."

Skorich was teaching students how temperature affects pressure and the state of matter. On each student's iPod, red balls representing molecules bounced around in the view screen. The molecules bounced more vigorously or slowly as the students changed the temperature on their iPods.

Clay County schools spent more than $170,300 to outfit the district with 172 iPads and 158 iPods, with charging stations.

Oakleaf Principal Ed Paulk said the school used start-up money to purchase the iPads and iPods.

"There is no way to put a dollar value on the amount of learning kids have gotten from it, but I think it definitely has been worth the money and will continue to be," Paulk said.

In Putnam County, librarian Nancy Pegg took Nicole Carver's third-grade class through a writing exercise using two applications on the iPad. One program, called StoryKit, helps students outline fictional stories, then the students use Doodle Buddy to illustrate their stories.

The students came up with stories with titles such as "Iguana the Fierce Eater," and "Singer the Bee."

In the middle of the exercise, Joshua King, 9, shouts "this is fun."

"I like doing the iPads and writing the story," he said. "You get to make your own story and you get to draw your own pictures."

Marsha Cruce, Putnam's technology specialist, said Joshua's reaction is exactly why the iPads are worth the more than $42,500 the district has spent on them.

"The more tools that we can put into teachers' hands and students hands to engage them in education, it's an excellent way to invest in our future," Cruce said. …