E-Reading, E-Writing, E'rithmetic Educators Take Ipads into Class Technology: Districts Turn to Tablets to Upgrade Teaching and Learning Methods

Article excerpt

For students in Gina Ball's algebra class at Redondo Union High, taking quizzes on work sheets has suddenly become a thing of the past - now they just use the iPad.

At Pacific Elementary School in Manhattan Beach, fourth-graders in Paula Noda's class no longer write essays about an annual trip to a mission in Orange County - now they put together an iPad video, complete with theme music, sound effects and panning.

At Richmond Street Elementary in El Segundo, first-graders practice their letters not with a pencil but with their index fingers, which they trace against the screen.

The iPad craze has officially hit schools, which this fall began snapping up the sleek devices by the dozen, and in some cases by the hundred. At about $600 a pop - not counting the cost for programs - it's a considerable expense.

But educators insist the investment is worth it because the iPads are the wave of the future, not a passing fad. Especially in light of Apple's recent announcement about jumping into the textbook game.

"There is not a ton of debate about whether this is a direction the schools are heading," said Annette Alpern, assistant superintendent of instructional services at the Redondo Beach Unified School District. "The question is more: How quickly will the future arrive?"

Leading the charge is Manhattan Beach Unified, which purchased 560 devices for a pilot project this fall. That's one machine for every dozen kids in the K-12 school district.

When it comes to the use of the tablet computer in the classroom, Manhattan Beach is the district to watch - and not just because it has purchased so many. For one thing, the district is periodically surveying students, teachers and parents on the effectiveness of the pilot.

"We want to demonstrate that it helps teachers to teach and students to learn," district spokeswoman Carolyn Seaton said. "If we can't demonstrate that, then this isn't a pilot worth expanding."

The verdict so far: The iPads are enhancing the learning process. …