Title I pre-K students start year with iPads
Pilot program aims to put technology in the hands of youngest learners
Pre-kindergarten is all about firsts: first school, first teacher, and for many Charles County pre-k students attending Title I elementary schools, first iPads.
At C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School Friday morning, Charles County Public Schools kicked off a new pilot program to provide approximately 350
Apple iPads to new pre-k students at the county’s seven Title I schools: Barnhart, Mt. Hope/ Nanjemoy, J.P. Ryon, Dr. Gustavus Brown, Indian Head, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd and Eva Turner elementary schools.
Title I schools are schools that receive additional federal funds due to having been identified as having a high percentage of students living in poverty, but Deputy Superintendent Amy Hollstein said the funds for the iPads came out of the school system’s general funds.
“The county made this a priority, so this is county funded,” Hollstein said.
The cost for the iPads, cases and licensing was $200,000, according to school system officials.
Hollstein said the Title I schools were chosen for the pilot because of the demonstrated needs of their communities.
Hollstein said that, instructionally, pre-k was the best age group to begin with.
“This is a perfect opportunity to get all those pre-reading, pre-math skills, so that once the kids are comfortable with this technology, it is going to help them throughout their whole academic careers,” Hollstein said.
Hollstein said each iPad comes with three apps installed on it, and every month they will send out three new apps focusing on pre-reading, math and social skills.
“With technology, kids learn differently these days, and so this is a great way to have them practice their pre-reading and math skills.”
The iPads are for students to take home. They will bring them to class once a week for instructional activities, but otherwise can use them at home with their families, Hollstein said.
“We want the families to work together. We want this to be time together, playing the games, that interaction, language development, all of that,” Hollstein said.
In addition to the apps, the iPads also contain resources for parents, Hollstein said.
Barnhart Principal Ben Kohlhorst said he was excited to be piloting this program.
“This will totally benefit the children. It’s the 21st century, it’s the way children use technology to learn, and it gives the opportunity to create synergy in the classroom through self-directed independence while playing educational games,” Kohlhorst said.
Kohlhorst said parents were notified last week about the program.
“Just watching the parents today, I could tell you they were excited, and the kids are loving it, most important. The apps that have been put on are very good, very educationally engaging for the kids,” Kohlhorst said.
Iris Coates, grandmother of one of the pre-k students who received an iPad, said she was excited about the program.
“I think it’s really good for them because a lot of kids are really familiar with technology these days, and so I think they will be very beneficial for them,” Coates said.
Portia Toye is the mother of one of a pre-k student who received her iPad Friday.
“I like it, I think it’s nice. I think they came up with a really good idea, giving iPads to the kids,” Toye said.
Hollstein said the pilot is part of Superintendent Kimberly Hill’s agenda to advance the use of technology in the classroom.
Hill said that exposure to the concepts in computer science will benefit even those students who do not pursue technology careers.
“What I do believe is that the computational thinking skills that you get from using technology in instruction can help you in every single class that you take,” Hill said. “They will make you a better math student, they will make you a better social studies student, and English and science student, if you’re familiar with how to work through a problem, how to work in a group well together, and how to talk about problems and then not give up before you solve those problems.”
Charles County Public Schools Superintendent Kimberly Hill hands the first iPad at C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School to pre-kindergarten student Christian Addison during the pre-k orientation presentation Friday morning.