Galion primary teachers introduce iPads to students
By Sarah Einselen
Students and teachers at Galion Primary School were introduced en masse to the school’s iPads last week during training sessions held for each class.
In one the of the tech sessions on Wednesday, Jan. 25, technology coaches Dennise Holtzapfel and Jenny Jackson helped kindergarteners in Holtzapfel’s class turn on iPads and find apps. They started the children off with a math game called Pearl Diver, leaving the children to play it on their own after they started the game.
The two teachers strolled through the classroom, crouching next to children as they needed help with any issues or questions.
Cindy Voss, primary school principal, said the training sessions were designed to get students used to current technology. The school has had its bank of 28 iPads since August, she said, but until this month they were only used by intervention specialists to work with children with special needs.
The youngsters can be intimidated by the iPads, said Voss, but get the hang of them quickly. Some children in Holtzapfel’s kindergarten class had already used iPads—mainly for accommodating special needs, said Holtzapfel, and partly because she had already been trained to use them.
“This is really our first time taking them into every class,” Voss commented. “We’re trying to eliminate the fear, basically.”
The iPads were less intimidating and more affordable than laptop computers, Voss said, making them ideal for classroom use. The software can also be updated on all the iPads at once.
The primary school wasn’t the only Galion school building to get the new technology. Dozens were purchased and divvied up among the buildings: The high school got 26, the middle school 66, and the intermediate school received 29. Eight more were reserved for district-wide use.
The iPads were purchased this summer using $78,440 of grant funds received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to school treasurer Linda Kidwell. The grants were earmarked for special education and middle school technology. Some of that funding also covered getting the iPads engraved, purchasing iPad covers, and purchasing charging carts for the iPads. The charging carts allow up to 30 iPads to be stored, charged and transported.
A panel of teachers helped experiment with various iPad apps and picked which ones would be installed on the district’s iPads. Most of the apps chosen were free. All the iPads from the primary school on up to the high school are currently loaded with the same apps, Voss said, but in the future she hopes to be able to customize her building’s iPad apps since young children have different needs from those of middle– or high-schoolers.
The cart at the primary school made the rounds towed by teams of teachers who had attended special iPad training sessions outside the district. They introduced the iPads to the students and helped the teachers get used to using the technology.
Now that students and teachers have been exposed to the iPads, the next step is to figure out how to use them to support instruction, Voss said. Currently many of the apps are games designed to reinforce the sight words or math facts that children have been taught. Some second-grade teachers at GPS have developed a vocabulary app, Voss said, but more work lies ahead to fully integrate iPads into classroom instruction.