SUMMIT, NJ - A pilot grant from the Summit Educational Foundation (SEF) last year enabled the Summit School District to purchase iPads for every Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS) sixth grader for use both at school and at home.  As part of an effort to make classrooms more student-centered, the devices were used in class to access specialized software, collaboration tools, research resources, and learning manipulatives.  During the school year, iPad use of the internet is filtered to prevent access to questionable sites.

To determine the effectiveness of the iPad pilot conducted last school year, the District conducted a pre-pilot survey and a post-pilot survey of students.  In particular, questions focused on the iPad's impact on access to technology, online collaboration, communication, research, problem-solving, and attitude about using technology. 

The surveys demonstrated increases, in most cases dramatic, in all these areas.  Douglas Orr, District Supervisor of Technology, said, “Using the iPad in the first year, we saw a 15.52% increase in the number of students who were collaborating online with other students on school projects or activities.” 

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Given the positive feedback, the determination was made to continue the deployment of iPads to the incoming LCJSMS students.   A new crop of sixth graders have now received their personal iPads, thanks to the Summit School District and SEF.  

More than 330 iPads were deployed to students in seventh grade, and over 320 to students in sixth grade.  A mobile device management system helps the District manage the iPads.  When the iPads were collected at the end of last year, any that were damaged were repaired over the summer.  In addition, all of the cases from last year were replaced with a new, more protective case.

Sixth grade teachers are now fully familiar with the iPad technology and how to integrate it with the sixth grade curriculum.  “The iPads have helped many students stay more organized and connected to the classroom and its contents.  They have also helped students keep track of their work.  It provides many opportunities for students to approach class content in a variety of ways and work at their own pace,” says Warren Wannamaker, grade six social studies teacher.  Theresa R. Martin, grade six social studies teacher, further explains, “The iPads have empowered all of my students to learn, create, contribute and grow in our increasingly digital world.”

Of course, the students are very excited to have their very own personal iPad.  Sixth grader Maddie Lumelleau, says, "It's easier to use iPads because everything is in one place and apps like BrainPOP help us study for quizzes."  Giana Acitelli, another student, adds "The iPads make it easier to access information, such as the dictionary, and check teacher websites for assignments."  Most, if not all, teachers have created their own website where students can find class notes, assignments, and upcoming test or quiz dates.”

The current seventh grade class received their personal iPads last January.  When they returned to school in September, they were provided the same iPad they had from the prior year.  The seventh grade teachers have now integrated the iPad into their curriculum. “We are off and running with the iPads,” says seventh grade science teacher, John Ross.  He said his students have already used the QR Reader app and YouTube videos to enhance their study of the solar system.  Ross added that his students will use Google Slides “to create a Dr. Seuss-style storybook about the planets for our elementary school libraries. The students will read each other's slides and then use the Socrative app to vote for their favorites. The class winners will then use Publisher to create the actual storybook.” 

Matthew Ramstedt, seventh grade social studies teacher, is also pleased with the impact of the iPad in his classroom.  "Students can now utilize this tool in my classroom and at home to fully incorporate it into their learning.  They can annotate the lesson in a program like Notability or Topnotes, taking the teacher notes and media and making it more personal and relevant to them.” 

Ramstedt is also enthusiastic about the potential of the iPad in creating a paper-free classroom.  He indicated that students could “use a flashcard app to study for assessments, which is not only an effective way to study, but guarantees they will not lose flashcards they took so long creating.  We use the BrainPop App to introduce new ideas and content, and students can take practice quizzes to measure their understanding with the results being emailed to me so I can chart their progress.  Finally, with the use of Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Sheets, I can provide students digital access to class materials, and they can submit work to me through sharing their files.”

Teachers and students are not the only ones who are enthusiastic about using iPads in school.  Jamie Heckelman, a seventh-grade parent says, “The iPads have brought an element of enthusiasm -- and ownership -- to learning.  They are particularly valuable as a research tool, encouraging students to independently gather the information they need to complete assignments--both in-school as well as at home.”

To find out more about SEF, including how support the organization and its efforts, visit www.sefnj.org.