Local students greet new year with new technology
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 11:46

Our Lady of Hope/St. Luke School sixth-grader James Bower and eighth-grader Jasmine Nickel practice multiplying and dividing fractions using one the school’s new iPads.

iPads now in use at OLH/St. Luke School 

by Nicole Rodman

    Kelly Lessis, middle-school math teacher at Our Lady of Hope/St. Luke School, was standing just outside the door of her classroom when one of her students came running out into the hall.
    “Can we do something fun?” the boy breathlessly asked his teacher.
    Smiling at the excited student, Lessis replied that he could go work on his fractions.
    Excitedly, the boy exclaimed, “Yeah, fractions!” before heading back into the room.
    While a student excited to work on fractions may seem unbelieveable, it has become a reality at Our Lady of Hope/St. Luke School thanks to the school’s latest classroom addition — iPads.
    Introduced by Apple in 2010, the iPad is a small tablet computer that is able to run many of the applications and programs available on modern smartphones and laptops.
    For students at Our Lady of Hope/St. Luke School, the addition of the iPads means that students have more options than ever for multimedia learning in the classroom.
    Currently, the school has seven iPads, five in classrooms and two that have yet to be set up.
    According to teacher Janet Myers, the school was able to purchase the devices after a schoolwide fundraiser in which students and staff sold candy.
    As Lessis noted last week, the school should be getting two more iPads soon — bringing the total to nine computers.
    The new iPads will be purchased with money raised from the school’s recycling program.
    Last year, the program brought in $550, which will be used to purchase the new tablet computers.
    Eventually, Lessis explained, the school would like to have at least 10 to 12 iPads, enough for each student pair in a classroom to get a device.
    For Lessis, the iPads are a natural extension of more traditional types of  pencil-and-paper math class learning.
    Upon introducing a new concept in her class, Lessis noted last week, she spends a good deal of time working with students in a more traditional way.
    For today’s tech-savvy students, however, the old ways are being supplemented with a dose of modern technology.
    “Today’s kids have technology at their fingertips everywhere else,” Lessis explained, adding, “We are trying to make that true here, too.”
    In Lessis’s class last Thursday, students in her exploratory math group spent third period reinforcing fractions concepts using a variety of educational applications and games.
    According to Lessis, there are a number of benefits to having the devices in the classroom.
    One of the main benefits is in the fact that the devices are portable, allowing them to travel quickly between classrooms and users.
    Rather than having to disrupt a class by walking all the way up to the school’s computer lab, teachers can now easily integrate technology into their lessons without leaving the classroom.
    The iPads also aid student learning in that they cater to a number of different learning styles.
    While some students learn well using a pencil-and-paper approach, many students are more visual learners. The iPad, with its colorful graphics and touch screen, is a vidid and interactive way to reinforce concepts learned in the classroom.
    Additionally, when using the applications and games, students can receive instant feedback on their work.
    By linking up the iPad devices together wirelessly, students can even challenge one another to educational games and races.
    According to Lessis, one such game, Spaceship Integers, allows students to race one another while practicing their speed and accuracy in solving math problems.
    So far, the response from students has been extremely enthusiastic.
    “They love it,” Lessis explained last week, noting, “It’s something that takes them out of the monotony of pencil and paper.”