This year, select classes at Grand Island High School will participate in an iPad pilot project. As the district recently invested in a set of iPads for each of the buildings, this was an ideal opportunity to build teacher capacity and comfort with integrating technology using this tool in the classroom. Integrating technology into classroom instruction is an initiative required by the New York State Education Department in an effort to meet common core curriculum standards.
Beginning Sept. 19, the iPad project was implemented in two classrooms at the high school. Teachers Jeffrey Green of the Science Department and Tom Gorman of the English Department were chosen to pilot the study led by David Mileham from Erie 1 BOCES. A set of 30 iPads are utilized throughout their classes during the school day. Mileham serves as a technology coach to support the instructional planning and implementation within the classroom.
In Gorman's class, the iPads are being used to complete projects such as advertisements and digital vocabulary companions. They are also being used to create visual and auditory notes. According to the school district, student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and the use of paper resources has been drastically reduced.
In Green's class, the iPads are being used to take notes, complete labs, and submit assignments.
"It's amazing what iPads can do in education. Most people see them for their leisure and entertainment value. I was astounded with the ease of their implementation into everyday classroom activities. I have noticed student improvement," said Green. "The students have been more engaged and the use of this tool has increased our instructional time because we don't have to distribute as much paper."
Students agree iPads are an effective classroom tool.
"It makes us more willing to do everyday activities like taking notes," said student Cassie Gilcart. "They (iPads) keep us organized and we can't lose our notes or assignments," noted student Jake McMahon, Both are juniors currently enrolled in Green's environmental science course.
Green went on to say, "I see that the students are more engaged in the lessons. I believe the iPads give students a modern, hands-on experience, one similar to college. From an environmental standpoint, I haven't had to use the copy machine as much and it feels good not to use so much paper. I wish I could keep a class set (of iPads) indefinitely."
Karen Cuddy-Miller, director of curriculum and instruction for the Grand Island Central School District, believes that iPads are one tool that can truly transform education.
"We can engage students and teachers at levels that were not available before. It is the true embodiment of technology integration with tools that make a rigorous curriculum more accessible for all students."
The district hopes to continue creating opportunities to make this resource more available for students in the classroom.
"The teachers' excitement is a great pulse check on the classroom effectiveness," stated Cuddy-Miller. "When teachers feel that they are transforming what they do in the classroom, we can truly say that we are moving forward in providing our students with a 21st century educational experience."