Auburn Schools: Moving in the Right Direction
In 2011, ten years after Maine began issuing laptops to all seventh graders, the Auburn School System launched an initiative to provide an iPad 2 for each of its students entering kindergarten. At a cost of roughly $200,000- representing a 5% increase in the school budget (Opinions Divided…) some taxpayers were less than pleased- calling it a complete waste of money. But in Auburn- and schools around the country- trends are emerging and showing the iPad to be a powerful learning tool and a necessary investment in our children’s future. For over a decade, Maine has been at the forefront of integrating technology into public schools and there is no reason to stop now. Despite the high cost to institute this program, Auburn should continue to provide iPads to students entering kindergarten. Auburn is not alone in providing iPads to kindergarteners. In fact, kindergarten students in Maine, Tennessee, and South Carolina have received iPads to supplement their teacher’s instruction. While the iPad cannot replace the human interaction of a teacher, it is a great addition to the classroom, at a time when the teacher to student ratio keeps getting larger and larger. Laura Shaw, principal of Sherwood Heights School recently said, “When you have eighteen kids in the classroom and you see ten kids, hands raised up, the teacher does her best to get around. But sometimes with the iPads and certain apps the kids get immediate feedback. They know what they've done is correct and they can move on, or they know 'Oh, I need to ask for help,'” (Porter). For example, a child can play “Feed the Hippos Hot Peppers.” In this app the child counts aloud while feeding the hippo. The teacher can adjust the app difficulty to “count” or “add” peppers, depending on the child’s capabilities. When the child answers the problem correctly, the iPad responds with a round of applause; an immediate cue to the child that they were correct (Lemeshow)....
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