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iPads as ‘common as notebooks’ at Gurnee middle school

AlyssChurch 12 Wadsworth uses an Ipad find greatest commfactor during math class Viking Middle School Gurnee. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times

Alyssa Church, 12, of Wadsworth uses an Ipad to find the greatest common factor during math class at Viking Middle School in Gurnee. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 20, 2013 3:11AM



GURNEE — Rather than schlep her text books home, Viking Middle School student Breeanna Goosie, 13, uses her iPad to photograph the pages. In another classroom, science teacher Lori Johnson’s students use their iPads to make flash cards. Students also submit lab data on their iPads, eliminating the need for paper. Every student and teacher at Viking Middle School has an iPad to call their own thanks to Gurnee School District’s iPad initiative.

The district purchased 2,400 iPads for their students. Viking Middle School was among the first to get the iPads in December, and the rest of the schools in the district will get their computer tablets by mid February, according to Gurnee School District 56 Superintendent John Hutton.

“One pillar of the district’s vision is to provide student-centered learning opportunities centering the classroom around students. Technology is a way to incorporate that,” said Hutton.

Hutton declined to divulge how much the district invested in the 2,400 iPads, but he said the district had spent the same amount of money purchasing 800 laptops about four years ago. He also said that the funding for the iPads came from the district’s technology budget.

Every student and teacher is issued an iPad that he or she uses in the classroom and at home. There are more than 70,000 educational applications for the iPad for teachers to select. Teachers also have the ability to control what is on the students’ iPads during class to keep everyone on track.

Seeing the iPads around school are as “common as notebooks” now, according to Viking Middle School Principal Pat Jones.

“There’s a lot of excitement. Students walking with their iPads always have a big smile,” said Jones. “Every single (teacher) is excited about the iPad. They are making more of a difference now with kids than before.”

Sixth grade advanced math teacher Lisa McCauley said the iPads are “incredible” and make it “absolutely” easier to teach.

“I’m driving what’s on their iPads. I can see everything they’re doing and if they are having a problem right away,” said McCauley.

One of her students, Connor Bradley, 12, of Wadsworth, said using his iPad means he uses paper and pencil less often.

“It’s actually fun doing my homework at night. You’re using the future as homework,” said Bradley.

The most common technical problem with the iPad so far has been students remembering to keep them charged. The district did a pilot iPad program about two years ago, according to Phil Heinz, district technical director. Some teachers familiarized themselves with the iPads over the summer and started using them in the classroom.

“We realized this was the way to go. It was a two-year process to get to December for (our first) distribution,” said Heinz.



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