It's customary on the first day of school for teachers to get apples.
So it's fitting that at the onset of a major technology rollout program in Carol Stream Elementary District 93, teachers are getting digital devices of the Apple variety.
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Sixth-grade and kindergarten teachers in the district began receiving 60 new iPads and MacBook Airs this week, officially kicking off the district's so-called "1:1 learning initiative" that aims to put a computer in the hands of every student by 2015.
The teachers have begun receiving training in how to use the hardware in advance of their students receiving computers in January.
"We're not expecting you guys to go from zero to hero (by October)," said Tony Schlorff, instructional technology coordinator, during a training session with teachers this week. "This is a learning time."
District officials say use of the digital devices will allow for more personalized lessons, use of etexts with the ability to highlight and take notes, and viewing of videos and animations.
About 400 sixth-graders will have use of the MacBook Airs and about 400 kindergartners will have use of iPads. The district is leasing a total of 570 MacBooks and 290 iPads from Apple for $879,000 under the first-year test project.
Should the initial technology rollout be successful, plans call for students in preschool and grades one, three and seven to get computers in the 2013-14 school year, and students in grades two, four, five and eight to get them in 2014-15.
MacBooks will be used by students in grades three through eight and iPads will be used by students in preschool through second grade.
But district administrators and teachers say the new technology doesn't mean the end to traditional methods of teaching or the role of teachers in the classroom.
"Your jobs become more with these digital devices, not less," Superintendent Bill Shields told teachers.
Laura Crail, a special-education teacher at Jay Stream Middle School, said she thinks the new technology will increase efficiency in the classroom.
She also said it can give students the opportunity to work on their personal academic strengths and weaknesses through a computer-based student assessment data program.
Ann Kolling, a sixth-grade teacher at Jay Stream, said more and more teaching and learning will be done through new technology, though the exact form it will take is uncertain.
"You embrace the now, but you're also still going to need to practice your handwriting," she said.
On Wednesday, the district will hold the first of three town hall meetings to discuss the technology initiative, scheduled from 7 to 8 p.m. at Jay Stream, 283 El Paso Lane in Carol Stream.
The other meetings are scheduled for Sept. 24 at Stratford Middle School, 251 Butterfield Drive in Bloomingdale and Oct. 16 at the district's headquarters, 230 Covington Drive in Bloomingdale. Both events run from 7 to 8 p.m.