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Column: iPads marking new way of teaching District 518 students


WORTHINGTON — This week was an exciting week at Worthington Middle School with the roll-out of iPads to seventh- and eighth-graders. Next week, fifth- and sixth-grade students will also be issued iPads.

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The 1:1 initiative is more than just providing an iPad for each student; it is an effort to help students build technological skills that they will need in the future. iPads will be integrated into curriculum to enable students to build on content knowledge of a subject area while providing opportunities to learn and practice technological skills. Here are some ways that teachers and students will be using iPads on a daily basis:

* Formative assessment: Teachers will use apps to monitor students’ understanding of a topic. Apps, such as Socrative, help teachers to determine what students have mastered and also what they need more practice with.

* Engagement and Motivation: iPads provide a way to engage and motivate students in learning. Apps like Nearpod help to do this. Nearpod is an app that allows the teacher to control a presentation of content while the student engages in short activities, such as polls, drawings or short quizzes, to show what they have learned. Other apps, such as iMovie, provide an interactive way for students to exhibit something they have learned.

* Organization: Students will use the Reminders and Calendar apps on the iPad to help them stay organized. The Reminders app will help them keep track of assignments and other reminders, while the Calendar app will help them keep track of school-wide and extracurricular events. Also, a lot of the material that they need for classes, such as textbooks and notes, will be available on the iPads, so rather than remember three things for class, they only have to remember one.

* Communication: Students will be communicating daily via the iPad. Students have the opportunity to communicate thoughts and exhibit learning through various types of communication tools such as email and blogging. Teachers also have the opportunity to extend how they communicate with students. Rather than communication being restricted to the classroom, teachers can extend communication by sending emails to students or posting reminders on a website like Schoology.

* Collaboration: A huge part of integrating iPads into the curriculum is providing collaboration for students. Through the use of tools like Google Drive, students can electronically collaborate on a project. Students can even collaborate with other students around the world through e-pal programs.

This week marks the beginning of a new way of educating students in ISD 518. Through the use of iPads, ISD 518 teachers will help students gain the skills needed for their futures. Although the future for our students is unknown in terms of job opportunities and needed skills, the iPads can keep them up-to-date so that they are prepared for the next needed skill in life.

Alyssa Hietbrink is an eighth-grade teacher at Worthington Middle School.