Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 15, 2012

Eastern teachers, students taking advantage of iPad initiative

By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer

— GREENTOWN — Fifth-grader Jacob Kolk used his sister’s dolls to film a tall tale on his iPad called “Giant George.”

George grew too tall to fit in his house.

“He’s as tall as a tree,” the video said.

Kolk filmed George the doll building a new house with Lincoln Logs, one that was big enough for him to fit into.

The Eastern Elementary School student had to show his teacher that he had developed a character, a problem, a solution and an exaggerated plot in his story to get a good grade on the assignment.

“It was fun,” he said.

Eastern Howard School Corp. issued take-home iPads to all students in kindergarten to eighth grades this year.

Students, teachers and even parents are embracing the one-to-one initiative and are finding new ways to use it as a tool in and out of the classroom.

Fifth-grade teacher Shawn Carpenter was skeptical at first. She had just adjusted to using her netbooks in class. She was dragging her feet at the thought of introducing something new, she said.

It’s nearly two months into the new school year, though, and she’s had a change of heart.

“I’m saving time, and I’m saving paper,” she said. “The kids are excited about it. It’s a new way for them to look at things.”

Her students email assignments to her. They download books to read to students in second grade.

Other students filmed themselves giving weather reports. They used the iPads to create weather maps showing cold and warm fronts.

One teacher used the iPad to get parents to talk with their children about fire safety. Tami Maurer made her kindergarten students and their parents take a photo of the family’s emergency meeting place.

Parents seem to enjoy helping their children use the devices, Maurer said.

“I’ve seen better parent involvement this year,” she said.

Fourth-grader Breaunna Fansler said she and her grandfather use the tablet together to play educational games at night.

She likes games called Oregon Settler and Rocket Math.

But it’s not all games, as sixth-grader Caleb Newhouse pointed out.

“There’s more responsibility, too,” he said.

He’s in charge of making sure his device isn’t lost or broken, and he is responsible for ensuring it’s charged each night.

Eastern Elementary School Principal Randy Maurer said students are really taking care of them.

Of the 1,200 devices that have been issued, none have been broken and only one has been lost, he said. And that one was lost by a junior high student.

A kindergarten class got a lesson in proper iPad care Thursday.

“Do we drink a glass of water near our iPad?” the teacher asked.

“No,” the children responded in unison.

“How do we hold it?” she asked them.

“With both hands,” they said.

Jennifer Lincoln said she was impressed with what she saw.

Lincoln teaches third grade in Southwest Sullivan School Corp. in southern Indiana.

She and some of her colleagues visited Eastern Thursday to see how teachers use the technology.

Southwest Sullivan is considering a similar initiative. And after seeing Eastern in action, Lincoln said she will push for it in her district.

“It’s endless possibilities,” she said.

School corporations from Ohio and Florida are also paying visits to Eastern to see the iPads at work in the classrooms.

Randy Maurer said his teachers enjoy hosting other school districts and showcasing Eastern’s technology program.

“They’re proud to be a model school,” he said.