Cuero students, teachers use iPads in classrooms

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

April 25, 2014 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated April 25, 2014 at 11:26 p.m.

Technology changes have fostered  new educational tools such as iPad apps, which Cuero school district students can use every day.

Technology changes have fostered new educational tools such as iPad apps, which Cuero school district students can use every day.

CUERO - When her students start to get restless, Spanish teacher Maria Hotz tells them to take out their iPads.

"For us teachers, it has made our work a lot easier," said Hotz, the Cuero High School Spanish department chairwoman. "We teachers are also learning from our students."

More than 1,400 Cuero school district students were issued iPads at the start of the 2013-14 school year as part of the district's Power Up project - costing the district about $3 million.

Paula Brown, Cuero school district instructional technologist and Power Up coach, has worked with teachers and students this school year to get them up to speed on the iPad technology.

"It's the future of what the textbook is going to look like," Brown said.

Cuero High School Principal Michael Cavanaugh said they looked at several options, including the Kindle, before choosing the iPad.

"We're changing the way kids learn through investigative and critical thinking," Cavanaugh said. "They're not relying on memorization as much."

When Gina Merzbacher, 15, first received her iPad as an incoming freshman to Cuero High School, she said there were some bumps in the road.

"It's helped a lot, but there have been some issues with it, so I don't like to use it as much," Gina said.

Jaslynn Mathis, a Cuero High School junior, said she uses the Pages application in her English class to help her draft essays.

"It's really different without using paper," Jaslynn said. "It's easier to get on your iPad and get whatever you need from it."

Jaslynn said while her grades, which are typically good, have remained the same, her time management - thanks to the iPad - has improved.

"Next year, they need to make sure they all work properly," Jaslynn said. "Sometimes, we have problems with slow Internet and stuff if too many people get on it."

Gina likes to use her iPad in Spanish class, where it has been the most useful so far.

Hotz said some of the applications have helped students identify verb conjugations, but they also use the iPad to research cultural parts of the curriculum.

As part of a final project in her Spanish III class, Hotz assigned an iMovie project to her students.

For many of her students, this was their first taste of video production.

"I would like to see kids discovering more ways to use all these apps," Hotz said. "I don't think they've learned the extent of things that they can create; they're still afraid of using it."



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