Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

iPads make their way to Hernando students

WEEKI WACHEE

The 22 sixth-graders sat at their tables in language arts class Friday morning, iPads idling before them.

One boy examined his reflection in its darkened screen. Another pretended to lick it.

"Fire them up," Winding Waters K-8 language arts teacher Albert Mendez said.

The devices blinked to life.

Students opened their browsers, slowly navigating to a testing site, pulling up a reading assignment called "What is an Ecosystem?"

Within minutes, they were reading and answering 15 questions for Reading Quiz 1a.

This is what the school had in mind when it purchased iPads for the school's 188 sixth-graders, the first grade level in the Hernando school district to get the new technology.

What they didn't expect: that it would take until Friday, three weeks after school began, for each student to have one.

"From my seat, it was frustrating inasmuch as I filled the car up with gas, and we're ready to go, and it wouldn't start," said principal Dave Dannemiller. "I felt like I was letting my teachers and kids down because we're ready to roll and it wasn't there yet."

The school's distribution was delayed due to larger-than-expected enrollment and waiting for protective satchels to arrive for each of the $500 iPads, Dannemiller said.

A partial rollout happened last week, and the school had all of the iPads on hand and configured by last Thursday. But they were still waiting on the satchels.

The delay had an impact on classes.

"The kids have been very eager to get them," Dannemiller said. "My teachers had designed a lot of instruction based on using these iPads. They had to be creative on how they adjusted their instruction, which to me is a great thing.

"All of them are touched to some degree because all have a digital component," he said.

Content courses, such as language arts, math and science, had to revert back to standard textbooks and workbooks.

As for the iTech class, a mandatory new iPad course for all sixth-graders, students performed tasks for which they did not need the device. They learned about digital citizenship, going over the proper uses of the Internet. Teachers taught them about copyright laws and how it's wrong to take music without paying for it, for example. They also went over care and handling instructions.

Dannemiller said homework wasn't affected.

As the sixth-graders use the iPads for the first time, the principal acknowledged there will be hurdles.

"We're going to have problems. We know that," he said. "We're going to work through these."

One challenge the school faced at the beginning of the year was whether it would allow the devices — which cost a total of about $90,000, paid from the new school's capital budget — to be taken home. They discussed requiring insurance.

The school eventually scrapped the plan, and students must return the iPads by the end of each school day.

By January, Dannemiller said, he hopes the school will be using a cloud-based system, allowing students to work on assignments at home, assuming they have Internet access. Until then, teachers are using a free course-management system called Moodle, which allows students to access assignments from home.

Many students are better at using the new technology than some of their teachers — at least for some things.

They can zip between different applications, change settings, play games.

Where they struggle is when it comes to using the iPad as an educational tool.

"From the student's perspective, it's still a gadget," Dannemiller said. "It's a toy."

Mendez agrees.

"They're not using them as a tool to learn," he said. "That's what we're teaching them."

This fall, the school is teaching the students how to use roughly a dozen new apps. They'll do everything from making posters to movies to music. It's a key part of their education.

"We're having fun with it," Mendez said. "I think it's going to be a big advantage for the students.

The students agree.

When Mendez asked them how many preferred the iPads to paper Friday morning, every hand in the room shot up.

"You're helping the environment," said 12-year-old Christian Fitzgerald.

"It's easier than getting all caught up in the paper," added Alexis Hobbs, 11. "On this, you can just scroll up."

Instead of printing out 22 copies of the story for Friday's quiz, Mendez only used a handful of sheets so students could write down their multiple choice answers.

Soon, that also might be done on the iPad.

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432.

iPads make their way to Hernando students 09/14/12 [Last modified: Friday, September 14, 2012 8:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest

    BY AMY SCHERZER

    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other

    News

    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.