Sacred Hearts School begins iPad initiative Print
Thursday, Sep. 18, 2014 -- 12:00 AM
Sacred Hearts School, Sun Prairie, iPads
Seventh graders at Sacred Hearts School in Sun Prairie work on their first writing assignment on the Pages word processing app on their iPad Air devices. (Contributed photo)

SUN PRAIRIE -- Seventh and eighth grade students at Sacred Hearts School returned this year a little more enthusiastic than usual.

Two years of research and planning by Principal Kim Frederick and the IT and junior high staff culminated in the students starting off their year with individual iPads.

Loaded with more than 70 apps that have been carefully chosen by their teachers to support the curriculum and enhance the learning atmosphere, the new iPad Airs also enable students to communicate with their teachers through iCal, iLife, and iTunes U.

Students were not allowed to take home the iPads until they had three days of training on the devices, from basic rules and general care to organizing electronic assignment notebooks and exploring the apps. Students have individual school email addresses that enable them to communicate with their teachers, parents, and each other in a collaborative learning environment.

Students will use the iPads for the year as they remain school property but have the option to purchase insurance in case of loss or damage to the machine. The school has increased their bandwidth to handle the heavier Internet usage over the school day and set up high security so that the iPads are only used for school purposes. Students are not required to have Internet access at home to complete assignments.

Opening up options

"The iPads open up learning options for students," said junior high English and technology teacher Amber DePetro. "Neither the teacher nor the classroom are removed, but enhanced. Suddenly students have information at their fingertips. The possibilities are endless."

"I really like the organization of the iPads. It's a lot simpler to find everything," reflected eighth grader Patricia Rivera.

Sacred Hearts allocated much of their fundraising dollars from last year not only to purchase the junior high iPads, but also to increase the number of iPads for their kindergarten though sixth grade classes.

Taking the initiative

Principal Frederick stated, "We took this initiative and the cost associated with it very seriously. In the last year, teachers have researched effective use of this technology, visited other schools that have already implemented, and planned how this educational tool will enhance our already strong academic program here at Sacred Hearts. We feel this one to one initiative will provide an even stronger foundation and arm our kids with those 21st century skills that will be so necessary for success."

Students won't soon forget how to use a textbook, or pencil and paper. Many of the "analog" learning tools will still be used on a daily basis. However, the number of supplies and paper waste that is generated in most classrooms is greatly decreased for those students.

Eventually the school hopes to extend the 1:1 iPads to the fifth and sixth grade classrooms. But for now, the seventh and eighth grade students are appreciating lighter backpacks and more integrated learning experiences.


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