In December of 2010, the Lower Merion School District began to explore the potential of mobile computing (tablet devices) in an educational setting. At that time, a committee was formed to research and test different products within our schools. After considering the alternatives that were available at the time, the committee concluded that the Apple iPad could provide significant learning opportunities for young children.
During the 2011-2012 school year, the iPad was tested in two classrooms in Lower Merion, a Kindergarten and first grade. During this year the children used the iPads at various times throughout the day to support the curriculum. Often times they would practice a particular skill together during a whole class lesson or children could have individual, leveled-practice time during small group instruction. Beginning in September 2012, all Kindergarten students have access to an iPad. Additionally, starting in September 2013, first grade students will also utilize iPads.
Frequently Asked Questions About the iPad program:
- Who will be using iPads?
All Kindergarten and first grade students will have access to iPads in their classroom. In general, each child will use the same iPad each time, but the iPads will be shared. All iPads will stay at school.
- Why are K and 1 students getting iPads and not other grades?
iPads are simple for K and 1 to navigate (laptops are often difficult for this age group) and there are a large number of educational apps that focus on young children. Students in grades two through five have access to laptops.
- How much time will the children spend using the iPads?
The amount of time each child spends using an iPad will vary from day to day and from classroom to classroom. Additionally, it's rare to spend more than 10-15 minutes on any single activity with this age group.
- Which apps will be used?
The apps have been carefully selected and reviewed by the Elementary Technology Specialist and Curriculum Supervisors. The apps are chosen as tools to support and reinforce our existing curriculum and are embedded directly into our curriculum maps. We will not be building activities around apps, but rather choosing apps that support/reinforce what we would already be teaching.
- Why are class sets of iPads being used in Kindergarten?
Class sets of iPads allow all students to work with the iPad at the same time. Many of the apps give each child a chance for an individual response during a whole class lesson, rather than a few children being called upon for answers.
- What are the benefits of using iPads in the classroom?
During class lessons, the iPad allows for whole class participation, while during small group time, iPads can provide immediate feedback and differentiated instruction. iPads will be used in a manner which increases social interaction and participation, rather than isolates children during use. In addition, student engagement increases when using the iPad.
- Where can I learn more about iPads?
Take a look at the app section of the Elementary Family Resource webpage on the For Parents portion of our website.