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iPads create new learning environment at Trinity Episcopal School

By KBell
Nov. 12, 2011 at 5:12 a.m.

Anthony Codova, 7, adjusts his collar while he prepares to work on his iPad at Trinity Episcopal School. In the background, Dugan Chandler and the rest of the second-grade class count money on a free iPad application.

Not a single textbook was open in history class Monday morning, but eighth-graders at Trinity Episcopal School were still busy learning.

They were poring over the original 1763 Treaty of Paris, which was glaring back at them on a 2011 iPad.

"They have a world of information at their fingertips," said Kristy Nelson, the school's development director.

Thanks to a grant from the O'Connor & Hewitt Foundation, the school this year brought 90 iPads into their school of 163 students.

The iPads have proven to be a cost-effective, versatile way to teach everything from math to reading to everyone from 3-year-olds to 13-year-olds.

Hayden Nelson, a 13-year-old student in Monday's history class, said the iPads help students retain the information they're learning.

"You're more into it. You're not just reading it, you're looking at different sources," he said.

At their teacher's commands, students went from looking at the historical document to looking up definitions on the iPad's dictionary application. Then, they searched for causes and effects of the treaty for that day's assignment.

They can even type up their assignments on the iPad and print them out for their teacher.

"It's an enhancement. See, they're busy," their teacher, Luis Rodriguez said, pointing to his quiet class. "I don't have to tell them what to do. They stay engaged."

Across the street, 4-year-olds were practicing letter recognition and writing, tracing their fingers along letters and numbers on the iPad. Words demonstrating the letters played through headphones resting on each little head.

The iPads are ideal for any kind of learner - visual, audio or kinesthetic - Nelson said.

"It looks like an 'S'" 4-year-old Emmy Chang recognized after tracing the number 5.

And down the hall, in a second-grade classroom, students were learning how to count money by tapping coins on a screen.

"They'll do this stuff for hours, and they'll think it's a game because it's in a game format, and they have fun doing it," their teacher, Mary Rokyta, said.

While some students have made it to practicing multiplication on their electronic math games, other students are perfecting their subtraction skills. The private practice on the iPad allows students to be less intimidated, and it facilitates students who are on different learning levels, Rokyta said.

"It lets them all be successful at whatever level they're at, all at the same time," she said.

Rokyta and Rodriguez, who have more than 77 years of teaching experience between them, said they have embraced the new teaching opportunities iPads present.

Of course, they're learning, too.

"The kids, they know (technology) . I can usually ask them questions," Rokyta said.

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