Carthage School Receives iPads
By JOHN LENTZ
What officials consider a new enthusiasm for learning was initiated Wednesday when iPads were delivered to every Carthage Elementary School student and teacher as part of an initiative to make students "future ready."
About 450 of the devices were delivered as phase two of a two-part process initiated by the Moore County school system.
"The students' reaction was one of complete excitement," said school Principal Denny Ferguson. "They couldn't wait to receive the new iPads, and once they were in the classroom they were immediately hard at work, engaged and focused. Wednesday was an exciting day at our school."
That morning, Schools Superintendent Aaron Spence spoke to a school assembly that included school board members, county commissioners and state Rep. Allen McNeill.
"We are very excited to be here with you as we begin on this very exciting and interesting journey," he said. "Today is the first day that all of our students here have been given access to iPads. We believe it is our job to prepare our students for the 21st century, and this is significant first step in that direction."
Spence reflected what officials see as high student enthusiasm for the new method of learning.
"The students are excited about this technology and are engaged by it as it allows them to learn in very exciting and interesting ways," he said. "We are so proud of the efforts of our technology team, our teachers and principals, and everyone who is supporting this learning for our students. But, most especially, we are proud of our students for all of the learning they are doing."
Phase one of the implementation involved teacher training in use of the iPads to enhance student learning.
"We began with professional development and formed a tech team to decide how to roll this out," Ferguson said. "We began with iPads for the teachers and teacher assistants to check out and use. Once trained, the teachers then used a first batch of 60 iPads to teach the students how to be responsible with the devices as well as how to use them.
"So while the excitement of receiving the new iPads was there on Wednesday, the students were already trained in its use. This is the method by which these 'digital native' students prefer to learn."
Mandy Nall, a third-grade teacher at Carthage Elementary, said teachers and students were excited.
"The students now have apps that give access to art, the creation of pottery, a garage band in which they can compose pieces of music and other tools they didn't have before," Nall said. "Our main focus is literacy, though, and teachers can use the iPads in every aspect of the classroom."
Another third-grade teacher, Selena McNeil, said that the "21st century skills" that the iPad represents will lead to more "collaboration and teamwork" among students and teachers.
"They definitely do not go into a corner and play games," she said. "The students are proud of their devices, and they want to share their work with others. If anything, having an iPad builds a closer collaboration with the kids."
Fifth-grade student Alexis Locklear enjoys a program called "Comic Life" on her iPad, which enables the student to create scenes and dialogue from templates that reflect historical occurrences.
"We are working on the Proclamation of 1763," Alexis explained. "I like the iPad because I can make the designs using my own ideas for input. It's better than a textbook because everyone can make their own designs to learn about what happened."
Spence said that Carthage Elementary was a "perfect choice" for the first phase of the initiative.
"His (Ferguson) leadership, enthusiasm, eagerness to learn new methods and dedication to seeing students succeed will ensure the students at his school will reap great benefits from this initiative," he said.
Ferguson said Carthage Elementary School students and staff were "beyond excited" to be the first school chosen to receive the new technology.
"We know from visiting other schools in the state that implement iPads for learning that they are not a fix-all, but we have noted that attendance is up and disciplinary problems are down in these locations," Ferguson said. "These are great symptoms that tend to spread throughout the school.
"The one-to-one initiative gives every child an opportunity for learning. One of our school's beliefs is that we equip students with 21st century skills needed to succeed within our global community, and part of this belief involves the use of different tools and practices to engage and prepare today's learners."
School personnel point out that the kindergarteners at Carthage Elementary will utilize the iPads throughout their school careers.
Kindergarten teacher Whitney Irwin called the iPad "the best engagement tool" she had seen.
"I thought nothing could beat the SmartBoard, but the students are really enjoying the iPads. We are working on our vocabulary words on the iPads today, which we would normally do on paper. The kids are able to create themed backgrounds, like Halloween and Christmas scenes, and place the words on top of that."
Kindergartener Juliana Brewer was creating a Christmas scene with her iPad.
"Have a seat," she said, pointing to the floor beside her. "Watch what I'm doing."
Juliana, who said she liked "snow, winter, Halloween and Easter," beamed as she exhibited her words before a Christmas background she created.
"How's that?" she asked with pride in her voice.
'Leading the Way'
At Wednesday's presentation, Spence asked the students to help him thank the various groups involved in bringing the initiative to fruition.
"(Let's thank) all of our friends who came here to support us today including our friends from the Public Education Foundation, and all of our elected officials," he said. "Let's thank them for their support, for believing in public education and for providing us the tools we need to learn."
Spence also asked the students to acknowledge "the Moore County Schools technology team who readied the devices for use, Deputy Superintendent Marc Bergin who is over the technology department, Chief Finance Officer Mike Griffin, everyone's parents, Principal Denny Ferguson who came to us and said, 'We want to be the first school with iPads,'" and the teachers who have been working very hard to get ready for this, who have been working with you and who have been putting in so many hours to learn how to make classrooms more engaging with this technology."
He then addressed the students.
"Thank you for leading the way and for showing us how it's done," he said. "We are so excited to learn with you and from you about what it means to have this technology and what it means for your own learning.
"Today we are putting into your hands the power to change your own lives, to change our community and to change the world. I'm really, really looking forward to this."
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or email@example.com.
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