iPads pop up at St. Raphael’s in Crystal

A group of St. Raphael’s eight-graders work on their iPads during a music class. By incorporating iPads into the classroom, each group of students in the class had the opportunity to make their own music video. (Photo by Anna Woodwick – Sun Newspapers)

For the first time, students in grades seven and eight at St. Raphael’s Catholic School in Crystal are equipped with iPads.

The idea was the brainchild of Principal Jan Schulz and Technology Coordinator Matt Joslyn. For the past seven years students grades five-eight had laptop computers, but Joslyn said it was two students per computer.

“Every year we review equipment and see what needs to be replaced,” Schulz said. “Now with iPads coming to schools, we felt it was a cost efficient way to go and help with education for our students.”

Schulz said that cost wise, iPads allow the school to put a device in each student’s hand.

“There is a lot that goes along with them,” he said. “They can search the Internet for papers and use all of the apps. It’s all right there.”

Between the school budget and fundraising, St. Raphael’s was able to purchase iPads for each seventh- and eighth-grader and all teachers.

“It was really a community effort,” Schulz said. “We planned most of the year last year and did researching, planning and proposing.”

Once they were approved to purchase the iPads, Joslyn and Angie King, a Spanish, English and Literature Arts teacher at St. Raphael’s, attended a conference focused on how teachers can incorporate iPads into their students’ lives. At St. Raphael’s, students are allowed to bring their iPad to class as well as taking them home.

“Around 70 percent of kids have wireless at home,” Joslyn said. “They can do everything there. We use Google Apps so everything is online.”

With their iPad, students are able to remotely check in to their school planner as well as do their homework. Schulz said letting students bring iPads home is no different than them bringing home a textbook.

“It’s really great, it’s just another learning tool,” she said. “We felt that locking them away for the evening and not letting them take them home was a waste of resources. We wanted them to engage and learn at home.”

Joslyn was able to program the iPads so students can press a button and have their iPad projected on to a screen in a classroom, which allows them to share their work with other students and teachers.

“We live in a technologically advanced world and the kids’ lives are surrounded with iPads,” said King. “Anything we can do to make our teaching relevant to their lives, they respond so much better.”

King’s students use their iPads for everything from a dictionary application to program called Pop Lit used for presentations.

“They can brainstorm and make maps and they use them for vocabulary and word building,” King said.

King has noticed that allowing students to have iPads has given them a sense of freedom.

“They have more ownership and responsibility,” she said. “Seventh and eighth grade is a transition state. It’s good that they can be responsible for something.”

IPad use is becoming more prevalent in schools and St. Raphaels is hopeful that in the next few years they can expand the devices to sixth graders.

“It’s continuous planning,” Schulz said.

Contact Anna Woodwick at [email protected]