Eighth-grade math teacher Desnesha Howell, left, and special education teacher Emily Hill get district-issued iPads as the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District rolled out the devices to teachers at Armstrong Middle School on Friday. The rollout was part of a day-long deployment of the devices to SOCSD teachers. Students returned to class today. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff
January 7, 2019 11:04:52 AM
Middle and high school classrooms in the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District will be a little different as class resumes today after the district deployed hundreds of iPads to its teachers on Friday.
SOCSD Superintendent Eddie Peasant said the rollout is part of the district's 1:1 initiative, which aims to have at least one digital device -- whether iPads or MacBooks -- for each of its middle and high school students.
The district has 2,000 iPads, 600 of which are for its teachers. The school board approved four-year leases of the iPads late last year for $797,700.
While the district is not, at this point, issuing devices directly to students, it will have enough for each student to check out from carts in every classroom.
Peasant said the initiative will focus on narrowing the "digital gap" between teachers and students. For example, he said projects that have been done on poster boards can now be completed digitally.
"In our convocation (Friday) morning, I spoke with them about the students in our classrooms now are Generation Z students," Peasant said. "They're digital natives. That's all they know. That's the best way to communicate with them and to get them to communicate with us. So in order for us to more effectively educate them and enhance the instruction in the classroom, this is a major step in that direction."
The initiative should also help prepare students for life after school, as more colleges and companies rely on technology for day-to-day business, Peasant said.
"In our world, you have to be digitally versed and understand how technology impacts everything we do," he said.
Armstrong Middle School Principal Julie Kennedy said the district has further plans to conduct training for the teachers on using the iPads next month.
"The teachers are really excited about receiving training and finding out everything they can learn and do to enhance instruction for the students," she said. "They're really excited about that, which will be coming in February."
Seventh-grade math teacher Harley Middleton said she's been looking forward to getting her iPad for instruction since the district announced the deployment to teachers before schools let out for Christmas break.
She said she thinks the iPads will help her reach more of her students more effectively. Like Peasant, she said that allowing access to technology many students are already familiar with should help improve instruction.
"This is putting Starkville in that area where we're moving where our students are," she said. "Right now we're not -- we don't have that technology that they have in their hands literally all the time. So we're going to be more on their level and they'll be able to show us things we don't even know how to do. I think it will be great, just having another outlet to show us what they can do."
Middleton said she's still developing ways to best to implement the iPad into her teaching. However, she expects it will offer a range of benefits.
"For math, there are so many great resources out there that it should be pretty easy to find something to do," she said. "I'm really looking forward to having it where I can connect with my SMART Board and can walk around more so I'm not just tied to the board. That would be really helpful for math since we do a lot of problems. And also through math, there's engineering and thing of that nature so we can reach some of those STEM opportunities through the iPad."
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