PHILIPSBURG – The iPad weighs less than two pounds and is thinner than a textbook. However, this slender technology unlocks a wealth of research opportunities that neither the library nor its bookshelf can hold for sixth graders in Mr. Sypa’s classroom.
“It’s like we have the whole world in front of us,” said CJ Morrissey. Morrissey is one of 23 North Lincoln Hill students in Mr. Sypa’s classroom who is using an iPad every day at school.
Purchased through the Keystones to Opportunity literacy grant, the iPad classroom is the first of its kind in the Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District.
Students use apps such as NOVA Elements to build their own molecules. Calculating the distance between planets is a breeze using the NASA app.
With iMovie, it took the class about 30 minutes to create their own movie trailer about their iPad classroom. While studying the 2012 election, students used iPads to fact check statements presidential candidates made during the campaign.
“What we are learning is pretty much limitless,” said Bubba Slogosky. “Usually, when I came to school, it was the same old thing. But now, with the iPad, it’s something different every day.”
When the iPads arrived earlier this fall, students acclimated to the technology quickly and haven’t put them down since – except to charge them in the iPad cart at the end of each school day. The cart automatically shuts down after the iPads are fully charged.
“They knew how to use them right away,” said Mr. Sypa, who himself is learning more with the students. “A lot of them had iPods so they already knew the basics.”
Even fundamental tasks such as note taking have become more interactive and meaningful. Each student keeps a “word wall” of commonly used, themed and or challenging words that are typed on sticky notes and moved around the screen. Students use notepad and journal apps, such as Leather Diary, for writing assignments. Students recognize the improvement in their own literacy skills.
“I am reading and writing so much more than I did before,” said Megan Winters.
Kaleigh Taylor has even changed her opinion of school. “I used to hate school,” she said. “But now, I love it.”