Students at Spencer Trail Kindergarten are continuing to use technology in the classroom, and the early success of the new one-to-one iPad program was highlighted in a presentation Jan. 18, at the New Lenox School District 122 Board of Education’s regular meeting.
“There’s a certain buzz in the air at Spencer Trail when you’re doing something that’s new and exciting,” said Dr. Lori Motsch, principal of Spencer Trail Kindergarten. “There’s a lot of preparation and problem solving, but the true excitement is coming from the kids. They love their iPads.”
This school year, there are roughly 2,100 iPads available for use by kindergarten students at Spencer Trail. The cost is $474 per device, plus expenses for cases and charging carts.
The district took action to form a new lease in 2016 after an old one expired.
“What we’re finding is we’re just educating this completely different generation of kids where they’re exposed to technology and we want to tap into that,” Motsch said. “The kids are completely engaged, and it’s something that they’re used to. If we’re truly preparing them for the future, we need to get technology in their hands.”
The program’s effectiveness is being reviewed, Motsch said.
“Informally, the teachers are just observing how it’s going,” she said. “But we’ll see at the end of the year, with our different assessments that we do to see if it made a difference. I can tell you informally, the teachers would say it’s made a difference in student engagement.”
To the concern of technological issues, Motsch said none of them posed much of an issue.
“That’s the beauty of piloting something like this is we’re working as a team,” she said.” Our building is all kindergarten. So, we’re all working on it… Speaking of the buzz that we have in our building right now, it’s one of collaboration, trial and error, trying to figure out how it’s working.”
Motsch added that it’s key knowing that staff strives to align the program to fit the existing curriculum.
Continued learning is a priority not only for students but staff, Motsch said.
The digital learning ambassadors are allotted a $500 stipend for professional development, much of which is done in-house. Opportunities for support have consisted of monthly digital learning ambassador meetings, full-day training, conferences and summer training.
To date, each staff member has accumulated more than 25 hours of professional development.
The district accounted for these expenses using Title II funds and other local lines.
Motsch gave credit to school officials for supporting the initiative’s launch.
“I’m sure [the program] will change for next year as we learn and grow and get through this process,” she said.
Board member Phil Adair has long been a supporter of the one-to-one iPad program. He said seeing the initiative come together at Spencer Trail Kindergarten this year has been a pleasure.
“I think it’s just fantastic what you’ve done with the students in the integration of the iPads,” Adair said. “I think it’s just fantastic. I wholly support this and hope that we continue with the iPad, grow the program so that every kid in the school can have an iPad.”
To this, Director of Curriculum Dr. Marianne Cucci said future plans for the one-to-one iPad program are to be determined.
“Right now, we purchased them through a lease,” she said. “We’d definitely like to expand.”