Mobile Technology Update Provided at New Providence BOE Meeting; Safe Routes to School Grant Discussed

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The New Providence Board of Education had an informal discussion about a pilot program that details the use of I-pads in classrooms at a workshop meeting on Thursday night at New Providence High School.
The iPad pilot program, a way to test the effectiveness of this technology tool in the classroom, was put in place two weeks ago in two classrooms at the high school, according to Superintendent of New Providence School’s David Miceli. 
Michael Mitchell, teacher of Japanese II and Jon Keaney, teacher of Human Physiology, are the first teachers to test this pilot.
“We have been working very hard with the technology department on accommodating those teachers’ requests with respect to the units they developed for the specific pilot and the initiative,” Miceli said.

“I visited Jon’s class twice. It certainly was fun to watch and see the engagement of the students with the iPads. We’re definitely getting a lot of positive feedback, but were also running into some glitches and running into things that we need to tweak,” Miceli added
Sandra Searing, who is the director of curriculum, instruction and supervision at New Providence schools, spoke further on the program,, saying it is a well-positioned instruction initiative.
She mentioned that students, in using the iPads, are more engaged in learning because the device engages them in collaborative problem solving. The device can also be used at an access point of the classroom, Searing said.
Searing also mentioned that this initiative was a learning process for not only students, but teachers as well. She said that the teachers chosen to participate are “some of our best” and comfortable with using new technology features.
There are plans among the district to include seven more teachers, who teach grades 5-12, in this pilot program, according to Micelli.  Next week the program will be used in the seventh grade science classroom, Miceli said.
Still in its early phases, the program is also meant to test the effectiveness of an iPad versus a laptop computer. Searing reported that it was found an iPad is sometimes more efficient in a classroom because rather than having groups gather around a single laptop, each student would be able to have their own iPad.
There are no plans to rid any of the schools of laptops because they can still be a sufficient tool for certain classroom and student tasks, according to Searing. The board also discussed that the district recently purchased a large number of laptops before the iPad became available to them, so ridding the school of these devices would be a waste of the district’s money.
The board will continue to provide updates on this pilot program as it continues into its future stages.
In other news, New Providence will use the 2012 Safe Routes to School Grant to improve the sidewalks and pathways that lead to schools within the town. There are a number of locations identified that need to be improved, Miceli said.
The grant is provided by the federal safe routes to school program, which awards federal funding to U.S. municipalities and schools. Therefore, the improvements to the infrastructures throughout town would not be funded by the district or the town, according to Miceli.
“It would obviously provide safer pathways for our students to walk and or ride their bikes to school Miceli said. “They approached us to support this initiative."
He also said that in years past with this grant the PTA has sent letters in support of this initiative. Many residents were pleased because sidewalks and road areas near their homes were fixed without the help of their tax dollars, Miceli said.
It was the consensus of the entire board to support a resolution, which will be on the next meeting’s agenda, in favor of this grant.
School Business Administrator James Testa reported that the first draft of the 2012-2013 school budget is almost complete and will be given to the finance committee by next week. The tentative budget will be up for approval at the last board of education meeting in February and will then be sent to the county for approval, Testa said.
The next New Providence Board of Education meeting,will be Thursday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

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