Friday, September 26, 2014
Entire freshman class using iPads at Pocomoke High
Every ninth-grader at the Pocomoke City school has been given an iPad Mini to use through the rest of their high school career. Although they’re still learning the ins and outs of the new gadgets and haven’t used them outside the classroom yet, by early October students will have access to them 24/7.
“I want my kids to be prepared for the next level,” Pocomoke High School Principal Annette Wallace said. “I don’t think we can wait.”
Wallace says she remembers struggling 15 years ago when she was in college to grasp the technology being used then. She wants Pocomoke High graduates heading to college to be able to use the array of technology available.
“It’s changed the dynamics of our whole world,” she said.
Wallace said when she learned that Jerry Wilson, superintendent of Worcester County’s public schools, wanted every freshman in the county to have an iPad or similar device by 2016, she asked if Pocomoke could be the site of a pilot program.
After researching the options and speaking to educators at schools that had already made the move to mobile devices, staff members at Pocomoke High decided to purchase 100 iPad Minis. In addition to being less expensive than the traditional iPad, the smaller version was favored by students as they could use their thumbs to type just as they did with smartphones.
“I was in a classroom today and they were note-taking with their thumbs,” Wallace said.
The smaller screen of the miniature device is also less breakable.
“The size makes it less likely to get busted in a book bag,” she said, adding that all of the school’s mobile devices were kept in cases.
While many of the ninth-graders were already familiar with how to use an iPad, Wallace said teachers took a lot of time going over digital responsibility with the students. In addition to being reminded to take care of the expensive devices, students were also instructed on how to use them appropriately, specifically with regard to social media.
“Social networking is here and it’s not going away,” Wallace said. “We have to teach kids how to harness that and use it in a positive way.”
In each classroom, a poster decorated with a stoplight reminds students that if they’re given the green light they have free access to the devices during class. A red indicator means iPads should be turned off, while yellow directs students to check with the teacher first.
Teacher Jess McInerney says the structured expectations the school has developed have shown students how to use the iPads respectfully.
“This is a tool that can be used wisely,” she said.
The devices provide educators with another way to reach students and also provide students with technology they might not have access to otherwise.
“We need to break free of teachers being the only receptacles of knowledge,” she said.
Wallace said that with the iPads, students had access to useful educational apps, were able to connect to each classroom’s SmartBoard and were able to air-drop assignments to their teachers.
“Technology has changed the way we learn,” Wallace said.
The approximately $50,000 cost of outfitting the freshman class and the school’s teachers with iPad Minis was funded through a combination of fundraising by the school and an endowment from a Pocomoke High School alumna.
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Examples of what freshmen at Pocomoke High School are using iPads for: