New iPads at Highlands School; teacher tested, student approved

Teachers at Highlands School said elementary students are making the most out of the new iPads purchased by The Literacy Council for grades Kindergarten through 4th. Students and teachers have had a week with the new technology at their fingers tips and said there are many practical benefits to having an individual iPad programmed for each student.

Fourth-grade Teacher Kristin Huneycutt said she appreciates having a 1:1, iPad to student ratio and one of the biggest advantages is during group work.

“What I really like is when they’re discussing things with the class during group work and they’re able to go back to their iPad for reference,” said Huneycutt. “But when I write it and ask them to explain it at the board, they can’t go back, so it’s much easier for them to discuss a topic having their own iPad.”

Highlands School 4th-grade Teacher Kristin Huneycutt can have students work on assignments individually using the new iPads purchased by The Literacy Council. When the students are finished, they send their assignments to their teacher to be graded and returned saving both time and paper.

She added that using iPads streamlines the assignment process and makes it more efficient.

“I used to have to print the assignments out for everyone,” said Huneycutt. “Now I just send it to them, and they can complete them and send it right back. It saves paper and time.”

TLC Executive Director Bonnie Potts orchestrated the purchase of 106 iPads for elementary students at Highlands School and over 30 more iPads for students who attend TLC’s after-school programs. This allows tutors at the TLC to use the same applications students are familiar with in school and enabling them to communicate with teachers about any issues a student may have. Purchasing the iPads was made possible by a gift from Art and Angela Williams, owners of Old Edwards Inn and Spa.

3rd-grade Teacher Cindy Henderson said they have so many applications that makes learning subjects such as science, reading, social studies, technology, engineering, and math more engaging and interactive for the students.

“They’re more excited about an iPad than written work,” said Henderson. “When I told them they were a gift, they were so happy they asked me who they should thank, so they are absolutely appreciative. I’m looking forward to some staff development so we can fully embrace the capabilities of this technology.”

Macon County Schools LAN Tech Colby Anderson said training sessions for teachers are in the works.

Third-grader Rowen Carnes looks to reference a language assignment he completed earlier in the day using the newly purchased iPads by The Literacy Council for Highlands School elementary students.

Third-grader Rowen Carnes said before the arrival of the new iPads, the old ones were wheeled into classrooms on a cart with limited charging stations. The new iPads came with Tech Hubs, charging stations for multiple iPads at once located in each classroom.

He added that having iPads programmed for individual students resolves other issues, including forgetting to log out before passing on an iPad to the next user.

“Other people would forget to log out and we would accidentally take a test or an assignment on their account,” said Carnes.

Several programs available on the iPad do not let the student proceed until they have answered the given questions. Carnes said he enjoys this challenge because it’s like a game and makes him want to learn the material even more.

“If you get something wrong in the program, it returns you to the beginning and won’t let you go on without learning it,” he said. “So if you want to finish the game, you got to learn it. I like that.”

Highlands School 3rd-grade Teacher Cindy Henderson said her students are more interested in electronic and interactive forms of learning compared to a textbook.

Third-grader Cane Smolarsky fell victim to another student who forgot to log out when he scored 100 percent on a test, but had to retake it because the iPad was signed into the previous user’s account.

“The part that’s really awesome is you can just get your own iPad to take a test and everyone else has their own and won’t ask you for yours while you’re taking a it,” said Smolarsky. “After I took the test, I saw her name (another student) and thought ‘why didn’t it show me where to log in?’ So, I took the test on her account by accident. They made me retake it, but I still got 100.”

Fourth-grader Alejandra Valerio said an iPad is a valuable learning tool and enjoys the responsibility of taking care of her own.

“It’s fun because you get your own,” said Valerio. “Before, if they (iPads) had too many things open or too much written in it, it would get slower. I like taking care of my own and never letting that happen.”

Elementary students grades K-4th at Highlands School now have a 1-1 ratio of iPads to students. Highlands High School already had a 1 to 1 ratio.

She added that having an iPad at your desk during group work or while watching videos is a huge plus.

“I think it’s good that we have our own,” she said. “If the person in front of you is tall, you can’t see anything. Now that I have my own, I can see what I need to.”

Fourth-grader Sadie Green said the new iPads run much smoother than what was previously available to students.

“The computers here are really old and they glitch,” said Green. “It’s amazing now because people used to only take the iPads that work, but now, they all work.”

Members of the Advanced Highlands Education Committee heard about TLC’s project to purchase iPads for the elementary students and secured a $5,000 donation from the Swift Family Foundation to buy protective covers.

AHEC is made up of members of the community who have come together with the goal of raising private capital to improve the infrastructure at Highlands School.

To read Plateau Daily News’ previous article “iPads for elementary students have arrived at Highlands School,” click HERE. To read the initial article “The Literacy Council receives $50K donation to buy iPads for Highlands students,” click HERE.

Students were scattered throughout the classroom using their iPads to take tests and work on assignments wearing headphones.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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