Ti­tle I pre-K stu­dents start year with iPads

Pi­lot pro­gram aims to put tech­nol­ogy in the hands of youngest learn­ers

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

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.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

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.

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