WSC Discusses Effectiveness Of iPads In Classrooms

Not that there was really much doubt, but today’s elementary school students seem to engage in learning better through the use of touch screen computers. During the regular monthly meeting of the Wawasee school board Tuesday in Syracuse, the board heard a presentation on just how effective a pilot program for iPads was during the 2012-13 academic year.

Funds left from the building projects fund allowed a iPad pilot program to be started earlier this year in each of the three Wawasee elementary schools. The iPads were rotated between classrooms and grade levels as much as possible.

Liana Butcher, fourth-grade teacher at North Webster Elementary, said her students used the iPads to connect with Edmodo, a social learning platform used by schools. She said although she is not totally convinced the iPads were the sole reason, Northwest Evaluation Association math test scores did noticeably improve.

Cathy Laker, second-grade teacher at Milford Elementary, said, “(the iPad carts) were a wonderful learning resource and we really appreciate the chance to use them.” Her students used the iPads, among other reasons, to videotape themselves reading aloud and then were able to watch the videos.

Autumn Griepentrog, fourth-grade teacher at Milford Elementary, said her students used the iPads for ISTEP+ testing and felt really confident after taking the test. Several Milford Elementary students then showed board members and administrators some of the iPad applications they used in the classroom.

Dave VanLue, technology director for the Wawasee Community School Corp., termed the pilot program “a rousing success.” He admitted he was skeptical at first, but once he saw how the students became engaged in learning with the iPads, he changed his mind. He noted using the iPads for ISTEP+ testing is easier than even using a computer because students don’t have to look up at the screen to read the questions, then look down at the keyboard to type their answers.

VanLue noted one drawback of the iPads is they are not as easily managed as the Android Kuno tablets.

In other business, the school board approved the process to move plans forward for the school corporation to enter into an agreement with the Milford Police Department for the town of Milford to provide a school resource officer for Milford School beginning in August through the start of Christmas break in 2013. David Cates, WCSC attorney, will meet with the town of Milford’s attorney Tuesday to further discuss the agreement.

Dr. Tom Edington, Wawasee superintendent, said Milford would allocate $10,000 for the SRO. State grants of $50,000 for resource officers will become available July 1, but at this time Wawasee does not know yet if it will receive any grants. “The state will require school resource officers to have a certain level of training and there are not that many of those already trained in the state,” he said.

Mike Wilson, school board member, asked if resource officers have any additional training besides that given to police officers. Edington said the Milford Police Department already has an officer trained to be an SRO and resource officers do receive a certain amount of training from the school corporation. The agreement between the school corporation and the town is only in the draft stage and more details will be finalized after the attorneys meet next week.

Edington gave a brief report to the board about the school bus accident Wednesday, May 22, near North Webster. He said one of the bus drivers had a surgical procedure done in a hospital and had to stay there for about eight days before being released. A meeting was held involving emergency response agencies and it was determined school administrators need to be more easily identifiable when they visit accident scenes in order to reduce confusion. The official investigation is still not complete, Edington added.

Edington acknowledged a book about things to do in Kosciusko County was published by fourth-graders at Milford School.

Other agenda items included:

  • WMS Fellowship of Christian Athletes and some Syracuse Elementary teachers between them raised more than $9,000 in fundraisers for Relay for Life.
  • Kosciusko County Community Foundation awarded a grant for $1,250 to be used for the career and technical education career explorations summer school camp at WHS.
  • Dekko Foundation awarded $6,000 — $3,000 each to Milford Elementary and North Webster Elementary — for the 2013-14 school year to be used for art or music related programs.
  • Dekko awarded a $220,000 grant for Cultivating Primary Development, a different way for first-grade teachers to teach.
  • Edington recognized school board members Wilson and Rebecca Linnemeier as being level three board members through the Indiana School Board Association, and George Gilbert as a level one member.
  • WHS Academic Super Bowl team members who qualified for the state competition were recognized and those present were given certificates of appreciation.
  • And the board approved a new athletic training agreement between Kosciusko Community Hospital and the school corporation where a trainer will be provided by KCH for five years at no cost to the school corporation. Previously, Wawasee had paid $10,000 each year as part of the agreement.

For a more in-depth account of the Wawasee School Board meeting, see today’s issue of The Mail-Journal.

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