Magazine article Momentum

Six Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Atlanta Embarked upon a Pilot Program to Provide iPads to Middle School Teachers and Students

Magazine article Momentum

Six Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Atlanta Embarked upon a Pilot Program to Provide iPads to Middle School Teachers and Students

Article excerpt

iPads Gaining Wide Acceptance in Catholic Schools

Historically, Catholic schools have provided a sound structure for learning, which remains evident in this 21st century. Students work cooperatively on projects, complete homework nightly, practice hand-writing and memorize math facts. Although Catholic schools nation-wide emphasize traditional teaching methods, the inclusion of innova-tive learning in elementary schools prepares students to make choices in high school and college that best serve their long-term goals. Differenti-ated instructional methods assure that individual student needs are being met; therefore, students and teachers must receive the tools neces-sary to integrate technology across the curriculum and into every facet of the classroom.

The development of electronic-information research skills has become a fundamental requirement for students. The use of the Internet facilitates research, makes available unique resources and enables faculty and staff to explore the richness of thousands of libraries and databases. The Internet also provides the means for interacting with others beyond the school community and encourages communication, collaboration and greater participation in the global soci-ety. Many classrooms across all grade levels currently incorporate interactive whiteboards, iPads, mobile devices, notebooks and computers into daily lessons.

In late 2010, six Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Atlanta embarked upon a pilot program to provide iPads to middle school teachers and eighth grade students. The iPads and the development of curriculum-based apps were provided by the Speedwell Foun-dation, Net Texts, Inc., and the Shelter Hill Foundation. The Catholic schools involved in this pilot program believe that a focus of elementary education is to build a foundation to support stu-dents as they transition to high school because students need 21st century learning skills and access to the most current technology.

Extending the Reach of Communication

Through the iPad pilot program, the sharing of work between students and teachers extends the reach of communi-cation beyond any individual classroom, thereby fostering a community of learn-ers. The ultimate goal is to cultivate a more student-centered learning environ-ment while enhancing the differentia-tion within the classroom to meet the students' needs.

From the onset of the iPad pilot program, collaboration regarding web-based tools occurred within the six school communities. To maximize teach-er efficiency, classroom content mod-ules were developed collaboratively. As individual teachers created lessons that enhanced the established curriculum, these were shared among all schools participating in the pilot program. The pilot schools held regular teacher meet-ings, which encouraged peer interac-tion. Students and teachers began using secure social learning networks to share content, access homework and collaborate with fellow students and teachers. This collaboration among stu-dents, teachers and the larger commu- nity has enhanced learning strategies.

During the first week of school, the eighth-grade students in the pilot schools were provided technology integration training. This training gave students a working knowledge of the iPads while also teaching the skills to navigate the tool successfully. Equip-ping students with the technology early in the year provided them access to per-sonal productivity tools for developing, organizing, authoring, collaborating and presenting classroom material.

In its initial phase, the iPad program demonstrated several advantages. The organizational tools built into the iPad aid students in the realm of execu-tive functioning. The calendar app and Google Calendars provide students re-minders of test dates and assignments. A planner app serves as an assignment book and Notability, a note-taking app, is used during class.

Assignments that can be complet-ed on the iPad are posted online or communicated via email, creating a paperless classroom. …

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