Building on the success of a pilot program that gave sixth graders Apple iPads, the Harbor View Parent Faculty Organization voted this week to fund a school-wide project that will let all students use the tablets in the classroom.
PFO members voted unanimously at a Wednesday meeting to spend $28,000 on a certified teacher as well as for 30 iPads and a “charging cart” that can move from classroom to classroom. The program will begin in January, Principal Todd Schmidt said.
“This is enrichment, this is intervention, this is invaluable,” said sixth-grade teacher Cynthia Coon, whose students have been using iPads nearly every day this school year. “You can have 27 kids on a different program that meets their needs.”
The iPad program was funded by the non-profit booster group Harbor View Dads. Beginning this school year, about 60 sixth-graders received iPads that they can take home each evening, then bring to school fully charged each day for classwork.
Teachers have been using the iPads during lessons, using features like Google Earth to zoom in on volcanos, for example, Coon said. The iPads also have reading and math apps that students use to reinforce skills, she said.
“It’s so interactive,” she said.
The mobile cart makes more sense than creating a new computer lab on a campus that is tight on space, Schmidt said. The cart would keep the devices fully charged between lessons.
The PFO funding also would pay for licenses for reading and math apps for all grade levels. Eventually, Schmidt said, students in grades besides sixth could receive dedicated iPads, but this approach would let more students begin to use the technology right away.
“It’s priceless,” Coon said. “It is putting us in the forefront.”
The sixth grade teachers began the year using the iPads mostly for enrichment, she said, but have expanded to intervention. Teachers also have worked with educators in another district to learn more about how to incorporate the iPad into daily lessons.
Newport-Mesa Unified School District officials said the program could be replicated in other schools if it proved successful; read our earlier story here.