Schools tap into tech with iPads

Rollout is part of ongoing boost in future learning as the district opens three new labs.

April 09, 2014|By Sara Cardine,
  • First grader Lexi Frost, left, takes a photo of her friend Kate Cooper, right, during class at Palm Crest Elementary School's iPad Learning Lab in La Cañada Flintridge on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. The school district recently opened three elementary school iPad Learning Labs with donations from the Educational Foundation.
First grader Lexi Frost, left, takes a photo of her friend… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

On Tuesday morning, while their fellow schoolmates played outside during recess, a class of Palm Crest Elementary School first-graders was engaged in a different sort of play.

They were playing with iPads — frolicking through desktop apps that allowed them to squash bugs, recycle cans and solve mazes with the simple tap and swipe of a fingertip — in the school's newly opened iPad Learning Lab.

That lab is one of three built at La Cañada Unified's elementary schools with funding from the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation. A combined $330,000 raised in two year's of LCFEF Spring Gala paddle pledge sessions helped furnish each lab with 38 iPads.

FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation also helped furnish La Cañada High School’s new iMac lab. The LCHS 7/8 PTA and the LCHS 9-12 PTSA raised the $75,000 to purchase the equipment for that lab.
PHOTOS: Palm Crest Elementary School's iPad Learning Lab


The labs are more than a place for students to play, they are ground zero for a districtwide shift toward a new era of education. It's part of a vision in which teachers will use technology to help guide students as they take control of their own learning and acquire 21st-century skills, said IT Director Jamie Lewsadder.

"This is a testing room, where kids are learning to use technology and teachers are learning to teach technology and helping us decide where our future is," Lewsadder said.

So like any other laboratory, the labs will be where teachers and students experiment together, whether through iPads or other devices, and explore the variety of lessons made possible through technology.

But while the iPads may be new to the school sites, they certainly weren't new to students in Meredith Beyer's first-grade class, who took part Tuesday in an introductory lesson with Emily Blaney, a technology integrationist for the school district.

Blaney opened the lesson by explaining different parts of the lab and the iPads. She demonstrated the room's green screen and introduced the class to important symbols and terminology they'd be using.

"Does anybody know what Wi-Fi is?" she asked.

"You need Wi-Fi to download games from the app store," replied one student.

"Where is the app store? Is it a store you go to?" Blaney continued.

Another youngster explained, "All the iPads have app stores, because they come with it."

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