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posted: 5/24/2013 12:01 AM

Dist. 214 discusses benefits of iPads in the classroom

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Next year nearly half the students in Northwest Suburban High School District 214 will have iPads to help them learn as the district enters the fourth year of a pilot program that officials said has been a success so far.

Teachers from three different schools and programs presented their experiences with iPads in the classroom to the District 214 board at its Thursday meeting.

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This year there are nearly 3,000 iPads in use in the district, but next year that number will rise to more than 5,000, said Rosemary Gonzalez Pinnick, associate superintendent for educational services.

"We are at the point now where instruction is changing," she said.

In a regular freshman algebra class, Elk Grove High School teacher Rachel Barry uses iPads to help students learn at their own pace.

She creates videos of lessons, lets students work through concepts on their iPads and gives instant feedback on problems rather than waiting for homework to be turned in the next day.

For students struggling, they can re-watch lessons at home to better understand a concept.

"ELL students love the fact that they can pause or replay," Barry said. "In class they can't pause me when I'm lecturing so it's an easy way for them to go at their own pace with the curriculum."

The technology helps students at all levels, said Stephen Traphagen, AP biology teacher at Rolling Meadows High School.

In his classroom students take pictures of their data during lab exercises and use them in their lab reports, or even record video of themselves conducting experiments.

"Technology allows us to have conversations with students and document student learning in real time," he said.

An eventual goal, he said, would be to have students keep their notes on their iPads throughout all four years of high school, meaning that students would be able to access what they learned in a freshman biology class with just one click while sitting in an AP class years later.

Superintendent David Schuler and board members expressed excitement about the district's iPad programs. Schuler said each pilot program is analyzed for student growth before it's allowed to continue for another year to make sure the financial investment is worth it.

"Our next step is to get all teachers to be sharing their work throughout the district," Pinnick said. "The potential to explode this curriculum in a short period of time is there."

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