First-year principal Angela Flora gave some hints at the school’s opening assembly that students would soon have the chance to use Apple technology during various classes as part of the school’s technological approach to the curriculum. Though the deal was not yet “official,” Flora and the donating organizations had reached an agreement on more than $7,000 for the new iPad Learning Lab.
“We had two community organizations that basically came to us and asked us what we need or what we could use in a perfect world,” Flora said. “It is such a generous donation, I mean, $7,000 is a lot of money and I don’t have it in my budget and this would not be possible without those community organizations.”
Flora received $7,000 from the Sandra Daugherty Foundation, who provides funding and grants to educational institutions across the country, and $536 from Midtown Rotary to complete the funding needed for the iPad lab. The mobile setup will be equipped with 10 iPads, a secure docking station and compatibility with the active learning boards in two of the school’s classrooms.
Flora said the use of Apple TV through the iPads will allow the students to link with the projection board in the classrooms for more hands-on, interactive learning.
“Because of the 21st century learning, the kids know how to use iPads. It’s amazing,” she said. “I am really counting on it to increase the students’ engagement and get the kids excited about learning and reach out to those kids who are not engaged by the traditional manner.”
Flora said the traditional manner is still applicable in today’s classrooms, but some students become more engaged and retain more when working with newer electronic gadgets. She said having students study and learn with them at the elementary level will only prepare them for the future.
“Being across from the STEM Academy (at Dilworth Middle School), and we feed the STEM Academy, the kids here are going to see the iPads and the technology as soon as seventh grade,” Flora said. “I think it’s important because we are moving toward that and studies have shown that kids learn differently and we are in a much different time. They don’t attend as well to paper and pencil and they do attend to the things they are used to at home. You would be hard pressed to find a parent these days who does not have a cell phone. A lot of people have the iPhone or something, so the kids are familiar with it and it is something that they do everyday.”
Students and teachers will be able to sign up for times when they would like to use the iPad lab in their classrooms for reading, math or similar subjects. Flora said the teachers will be an integral part of providing the best learning environment possible for the students once the updated technology arrives.
“One of my teachers was looking into all of the apps as far as literacy and math apps and there is a whole huge amount of math apps available. There is almost so much that you really have to narrow it down to what is going to work best for us,” she said, adding that students with special needs will be benefitting greatly from the new iPads. “One of the classes with kids with autism will use them for communication, behavioral support, educational lessons and drills that they ordinarily wouldn’t attend to, but they will attend to the iPad. It’s really amazing and I have seen it happen with a couple kids with autism that they know what it is and how to use it and it can be interactive.”
Flora said ensuring teachers have mastered the use of the iPad will be critical to maximizing the machines' use in the classrooms.
“It is a matter of training the teachers because if we don’t train the teachers how to use them efficiently, I’m afraid they will be less likely to use them,” she said. “So the training will be important and we will do it right here. There are people at the school district that can come help us with that.”
The versatility of the iPad, Flora said, will allow for better application of the Core Curriculum Standards, a Washoe County School District standard designed to increase students’ ability to enter continually higher education and be well-rounded.
“The Core Curriculum Standards really demand that the students are able to reach new levels of understanding of every subject,” she said. “For this opportunity to come around while we are enforcing those standards, I think it is just going to be such a powerful tool for the kids to get a really firm understanding of the curriculum because there is so many different ways they can learn it.”
Flora said the task of filling the iPad lab to fit its 32 iPad maximum is much easier now that the brunt of the cost has been taken care of. She said “the Lincoln Park community is really appreciative of the community organizations” that have brought learning in her school to a new level.