The 10th Street Middle School is requiring its 180 students to use iPads at school and at home. The devices will be used instead of school books, journals and planners as well as to receive and complete school assignments.
Parents can choose to send their child to school with their own device or check out one from the Marysville School District that was bought with money raised by the 10th Street Boosters club during the past school year.
"Our No. 1 goal is that in no way is any kid left out of 10th Street because they cannot afford an iPad," said James DeLazzari, an English teacher at the school.
The decision to use iPads started with a parent forum last year, DeLazzari added. Teachers were searching for new ways to mix technology with the curriculum. The school's 30 laptops were slow and outdated and the school couldn't fit a technology course into the school day.
Staff and parents considered buying 30 iPads to replace the computers, DeLazzari said. That idea grew into one where every student would use their own individual iPad.
Staff and parents realized that not every family can afford an iPad, which can cost anywhere from $399 to $699. So a parent's booster club started organizing fundraisers last year to help buy enough iPads to be checked out by families. Parents have been asked to write a letter or email to the district by Aug. 3 outlining reasons they need help acquiring a device.
Parents also can purchase the iPads on monthly installments through Apple, said Beth Ha, a mother of one of the students and a co-president of 10th Street Boosters.
"We're hopeful that our whole community is going to come along but we do recognize there will be some families that are going to be cranky," Ha said.
Only eight other school districts in Washington have reported using iPads for instruction, according to Nathan Olson, spokesman for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
In Aberdeen, a junior high school used one-time funding to make iPads available beginning in February for students during the school day. Last year, the Shoreline School District used levy funds to buy iPads for each Shorewood High School student and plans to do the same for Shorecrest High School students this school year. The Marysville school, which has students in sixth through eighth grades, has raised more than $10,000 to buy devices for the first year, said Karen Davis, co-president of the 10th Street Boosters.
The school won't know the number of students who need iPads until September when students arrive. So far, parents of 40 students have confirmed that they will bring their own devices and 15 have said they will use district devices.
Davis and Ha weren't at first convinced that every student at the school should have his or her own iPad. They were impressed when school staff showed them educational applications or programs commonly referred to as "apps" that are available for iPads.
"I can speak confidently as I know the teachers with their dedication and researching of the different apps that this device is going to make a difference in education," Davis said.
Part of the reason the school decided to use iPads instead of other devices is the amount of educational apps that are available and educational discounts that are available, DeLazzari said. Teachers are in the process of deciding what apps to use and how to best use the devices to teach.
Math teacher Brian Churchill said the iPads will give students in his classes more opportunities to learn material and discover the best ways they learn. Students can move through lessons at their own pace and get additional help by watching videos on their own devices, he said.
"From the roots of the school we like to be innovative and look for a solution and try things out," Churchill said. "This is an opportunity to use modern-day tools in a modern-day setting."
DeLazzari said he's excited that 10th Street will be the first in the district where every student uses an individual iPad.
"In the long run, everyone will be doing something like this," he said. "I don't know what the device will be but we know that's where a lot of the technology is going. You can get three of these (iPads) for the price of a laptop so you can see why schools are going to different devices."
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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