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JAFFREY-RINDGE

iPad classroom revolution: ‘How kids relate’

Jaffrey-Rindge students tap into technology

  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Seventh graders utilize iPads as a part of their daily curriculum in the Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

JAFFREY — With a simple swipe of the fingers and a couple light taps on the screen, more than 200 students in the Jaffrey-Rindge School District have access to a wealth of educational resources at their fingertips.

But it didn’t always used to be that way. The incorporation of the Apple iPad, or touch-screen tablet, as an integral part of a students’ daily coursework this fall has revolutionized the district’s seventh-grade classrooms, said Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School Principal Ryan Early in an interview on Dec. 18.

“Technology is how kids relate,” Early said. “The world isn’t sitting still — it’s constantly creating and our kids have to be ready for it.”

This past spring, the School Board approved up to $204,000 of unspent 2011-12 school-year funds for the purchase of 280 iPads for all the district’s seventh-graders and some high school students. High school students will be using the iPads in ancient and medieval history and senior-level civics classes in the fall semester, and in chemistry and microbiology classes during the spring semester. All the devices are under warranty and have safeguards installed, which prohibit Web browsing unrelated to schoolwork.

The iPads are teaching kids not only how to locate pertinent information, but how to synthesize and apply it, Early said. “Information is vital, but you have to have that soft skill of making it clean and refined. Everyone gets to do that, but in their own way.”

Although there were a few challenges outfitting the iPads and getting them ready for students’ use, Early said the program’s launch this year has been a great success. So much so that the district is proposing to extend the program to all of its eighth and ninth graders next year.

A proposed plan to fund the program is expected to come before the School Board in January, but Supt. Jim O’Neill said Friday that one viable proposal would be to use SchoolCare surplus funds. SchoolCare, a health insurance provider for towns and school districts, will return $8.5 million in the form of “premium holidays” to its members under an agreement with the N.H. Bureau of Securities Regulation beginning this month. More than $130,000 will be returned to the Jaffrey-Rindge School District and could be used to expand the iPad program, O’Neill said.

Seventh grade science teacher Meredith Lyons said during an interview at the middle school cafeteria on Dec. 18 that her students use the iPads for research, to better understand and manipulate data, as well as to view educational videos created by students around the country.

Expanding the program would be a positive step for the district, Lyons said, because students could build electronic portfolios and see firsthand how their learning has evolved.

Early and Lyons said there was some apprehension at first about giving 12- and 13- year-olds iPads, but the benefits of the program have largely calmed those fears. “Students have a sense of pride about using them and thus far there have been no issues,” Early said.

At the cafeteria last week, seventh-grade girls and boys said the iPad has made learning more fun and that they want to continue to use the device in future years. Dec. 18 also marked the first day that students were permitted to bring the iPads home to complete school assignments. The day was one Riley Buckjune, 12, of Rindge said she and her friends had anxiously awaited.

In addition to making class more exciting, Buckjune said there are programs on the iPad that students did not have access to previously. “Next year it’ll be easier, too, because we are used to it and know how to use the different programs,” she said.

Kyle Billdeau, 12, of Rindge said the iPad reduces the number of paper handouts he receives for each class, making it less likely that he’ll lose important information.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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