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BLAIRSVILLE: School adds iPads as learning tool

by KAITLYN LIPINSKI, Gazette Student News Reporter on October 19, 2012 11:00 AM

BLAIRSVILLE -- This year the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District has purchased every high school student an iPad under a literacy grant.

At the start of this school year students and parents attended a seminar explaining how the iPads would be used in the classroom, what can and cannot be done with the iPads in the classroom or at home, and how they will be used as a tool.

Some parents seemed very happy that students would be both moving into the 21st century while others felt as if the iPad may replace the teacher or be used for video games.

Blairsville High School's principal, Joseph Baker, said, "A device can in no way replace a teacher. It does not have a human touch or set a tone."

English teacher Andrea DelFavero says her class will still be heavy paper and pencil, but she will use grammar and vocabulary apps on the iPads.

Her students will also make movie previews of books they have read and submit papers electronically.

Her students will also have access to many college-bound books that they would otherwise have to pay for if the school or public library did not have them on the shelves.

Even though the iPads were purchased under a literacy grant, other teachers in all departments are taking advantage of the tool.

The math department is using an app to walk students step by step through problems, and the science department is finding it useful in the study of atoms.

World cultures teacher Richard Lowman says his class will be more and more electronic and less paper and pencil.

His students are using their iPads in his classroom daily.

Nearpod is one of the apps that they will be using.

While it is similar to PowerPoint, the app is also interactive, allowing students to write on maps and take quizzes right in the app.

In addition, Lowman can monitor student use and performance right from his own iPad.

"Electronics are here to stay. The more teachers and students are exposed to them, the more educated they can become," he says.

Student reactions to the new technology have been mixed.

Freshman Zach Hess says, "I think iPads could help, but they take away from learning because students will be more inclined to play games and not learn. I would rather use paper and pencil because it is easier."

While sophomore Jon Graff says, "I have no more thousand-page books to carry around; because of this, I am happy for the iPad."

In either case, the experiment to improve literacy and develop 21st century skills is under way.

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