When Cherry Hills Christian School fifth-graders return from spring break April 2, they will get a taste of what all students between first and eighth grade at the school will enjoy next year.
The taste of technology.
Upon returning from break, each fifth-grader will walk into their respective classroom with their own personal iPad waiting for them.
The pilot program, which will last the remainder of the school year, will go into full effect this coming fall when every student gets their own iPad as a learning tool.
“How to integrate them into the classroom, that’s the big emphasis of the pilot program this spring,” said Leza Shupe, CHC communications manager. “The first year will be a big test.”
A test that is bringing a lot of excitement to staff and students alike thus far.
All the teachers at the school received their iPads just prior to Christmas break this year so that they could start searching for apps tailored for the classroom.
“We’ve been doing a lot of research figuring out what we like, what works... there’s a lot of game apps,” said first-grade teacher Amy Kirchner, who has seen an increase in motivation in her classroom as she has begun to integrate using her iPad into lessons even though each of her kids don’t have their own yet.
“You have to prepare them for the real world. It’s not an end-all, be-all for me at all, but it’s an amazing tool,” Kirchner said. “The self-pacing aspect is huge. There are so many apps where you start everyone equal and they grow as they grasp the concept. To be able to give them what they need is perfect. Instead of ‘let’s meet somewhere in the middle and you’re going to struggle and you’re going to be bored with the iPad you can self-pace.’”
Kirchner said she has found a lot of science apps and math apps, as well as some vocabulary ones that are ideal for her age group.
“If there is an app that seems to cross a large group of people, that they all want, we can get huge discounts on those apps and work that into our curriculum budget, and through the data management system in the building do a mass download to everybody’s iPads,” Shupe added. “There will be some apps that are just on teacher iPads and some we will just get across the board.”
For those worried about the cost, the initial plan is that it will be $300 per year for each student, $200 for a second student in the family, and nothing for any additional student if there are three or more kids enrolled at CHC.
“If you bring your own you will have to clear it to factory settings, and you can sync it up later when we give it back in the summer. They have to be all the same,” Shupe said.
For those who need financial assistance, the school has a program set up with King Soopers to help cover the costs, which for now, are in addition to enrollment.
“We have been doing a lot of school studies and have had teams go out to California to visit high schools that are using them,” Shupe said. “It’s hard to find schools where elementary schools are using them.”