Sixth-graders at Northrup Elementary School are the first in the Alhambra Unified School District to use iPads in the classroom. Instructed by teacher Sally Padilla, the students first learned how to “cradle” the iPads by using two hands to carry them carefully to their desks. An iPad is a tablet computer that has a touchscreen interface and weighs less than a laptop computer.
“I love using the iPad because it makes school fun,” said a student in the class. “You just touch things and they move around. It’s so easy and fun to use,” said another student.
In Ms. Padilla’s class, the iPads are used to support language arts and reading instruction. Students write their first drafts on paper and then publish electronically using applications on the iPad. In one project, students brainstormed an event wheel chart on paper then created a comic strip using the application Comic Life to show the events of the story. They also frequently use the program Keynote, which is similar to PowerPoint, to publish their works.
“The students are very engaged with the iPads,” said Ms. Padilla. “We will project our works and correct in front of the class. The spell checker is turned off so that students can focus on spelling, which is a standard for sixth grade.” Gone are heavy dictionaries; students now use Dictionary.com to find words.
With headsets, students read along and listen to stories on their iPads. “The iPads are really good for English language learners and struggling readers,” explained Ms. Padilla, who previously taught a robotics course through the Alhambra Educational Foundation. On the application Juno, students take quizzes, and grades can be inputted directly to Ms. Padilla’s grade book.
The iPads, 36 in total, were funded by the Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program, as administered by the California Postsecondary Education Commission. The iPads arrived in September and have been used daily by Ms. Padilla’s students. San Gabriel High School recently received iPads for math instruction and has been working with Northrup for pointers.
“IPads are a valuable tool for teachers to enhance their instruction for all students,” Northrup Principal Stacie Colman-Hsu said. “It assists with bringing the outside world into the classroom and prepares our students to help develop technological skills needed for their future.”
*A version of this article originally ran in Around Alhambra