Holy Family embraces iPad [The Daily Independent, Ashland, Ky.]By Mike James, The Daily Independent, Ashland, Ky.McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Oct. 19--ASHLAND -- On the right side of her desk, Haley DeFade's essay about soccer is taking form on a sheet of ruled notebook paper.
On the left side is an iPad, and every once in a while the seventh-grader glances over at a reference page on its touchscreen.
She is on track for getting her essay done in record time, in part because the iPad places reference materials at her fingertips right there in the classroom. That saves her a trip to the school computer lab, which she might not be able to schedule until the next day.
"Usually we would have to wait until the next day for the computer lab to open. Now we can just find it," she said.
All 22 middle-school students at Holy Family School carry the tablet computers throughout the day, a new initiative this year that teachers hope will stimulate better learning -- and teaching, too.
"There is a lot of research that hands-on learning and creativity makes a difference," said social studies teacher Heather Moore.
A tablet on the desk means constant access to information. That includes textbooks, teacher websites and the entire World Wide Web. "It changes the game. Before, when students were issued a text they were limited by the information in it. With the iPad there is limitless opportunity. They can access any information, any time," Moore said.
It also changes the way the classroom is operated. More work is done without paper, and even some tests can be done online. Cumbersome overhead projectors are a thing of the past.
The environmental and cost-saving implications are encouraging. Moore can post notes on her web page and not have to copy them on paper for students.
Teachers are particularly excited about the apps available for the tablets, said English teacher Zana Moore. Apps are software programs designed for specific purposes on mobile computers like tablets and smartphones.
There are hundreds of free apps available that are highly useful for teaching, she said. She has been using one that takes poems her students write and converts them to rap songs. The students have fun with it and at the same time learn word and sentence structure lessons.
Students use another app to make comic strips about their lessons, combing through the web for graphics to combine with verbal information.
The teachers are hoping to connect with classrooms halfway around the world via Skype for cultural exchanges with foreign students.
The iPads are issued each morning. Students use them in almost all their classes, turning them in after school for charging and updating.
Holy Family is looking at the possibility of issuing the tablets in the elementary grades as well.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
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