"We make a lot of assumptions that our students know and have digital skills, but research has shown students are using technology, but they are using it for gaming, they are using it for socializing," said
Those skills, according to the
These devices, complete with cases and keyboards, would combine with some of the existing 350 school-owned iPads scattered throughout the District to create a two-to-one student to device ratio.
"Right now, there is limited time for students to access the (computer) lab, there's only four devices in the classroom, so it's really hard to use technology for teaching and learning unless you provide more access to devices for students," said Plyler.
"It would be like having a classroom and only having four pencils to go around for all of your students."
As proposed, fourth grade teachers would begin training over the summer. "Some (teachers) will already be comfortable with the technology, and others, it will be the first time they hold an iPad," said
Once teachers have a basic familiarity with what the tablet computer can do, they will receive training in ways to incorporate the technology into their teaching of other subjects. This means that, in addition to learning the technology skills TEA requires, students can learn the core subjects they will see on the STAAR test.
"There are so many apps that address core content areas, and allow teachers to customize the way a student learns," said Plyler. "Its a powerful tool."
"When you put an iPad in their hand, it's like giving them magic," said Higginbotham. "They are just engaged and excited. Normally, It's kind of like dragging them along to get them to write. They'll do it, but they're not that interested. But when you pull out the iPads we have, they write like they've never written before. They are inspired to work."
"This (program) puts technology at their fingertips all day long, wherever they're at," Higginbotham continued. "And because it's a tablet, it's mobile. Even if they wanted to go outside or take it on a field trip where they were going to do a project, they can take it with them."
"We have to teach our students how to live in the 21st century, and be creators, not just producers," said Plyler. If the pilot program is successful, Plyler said she hopes the District can add similar amounts of technology for fifth through eighth grade in upcoming years.
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