Students take delight in their Apple iPads at elementary school
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Grant Street Elementary School second-graders Rhapsody Thetford, 7, and River Stewart, 8, work on one of the iPads the school acquired as a result of a recent grant. —Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Grant Street Elementary School rolled out 54 new Apple iPads for their students Thursday, and the positive reaction was immediate.

“One of the kids came in this morning and asked if he could skip recess,” said teacher Peter Braden, who helped manage the acquisition and installation of the new machines.

“He told me that his hands were clean, and he wanted to use an iPad.”

The tablets were purchased with a $21,915 grant from the Port Townsend Educational Foundation that includes the hardware, service contracts and most of the needed software.

The machines are split between 36 standard-size iPads and 18 Minis.

Braden said the school got “a great deal” on the machines, which were purchased directly from Apple.

“They are all refurbished,” he said.

“They have the same warrantee as new tablets, and anything that has gone wrong has already been fixed.”

The machines are split between the classes, with each classroom getting two full-sized tablets and one Mini.

They are presented in foam cases that are color-coded for each classroom. The machines in Braden’s class are all blue.

Braden wrote the grant request, while Jim Emery, a community member, and Steve Haveron, the school’s tech coordinator, supported the rollout of the devices, said Principal Mary Sepler.

The range of available software allows the tablets to be used for everything from spelling drills to photography.

“I like doing ‘Mad Libs,’” said second-grader River Stewart of the popular word game that is available as an app.

“I really like the iPad and how fast you can do stuff.”

Braden said the machines help kids explore their strengths and elevate their weaknesses.

“A kid who is a great reader can find all kinds of options, and if you are stuck on any one thing, you can find an app that can help,” he said.

Braden said that while iPads are considerably more expensive than other tablet devices, they have a shorter learning curve.

“You can give an iPad to a kid, and they know what to do right away,” Braden said.

Sepler said the new equipment will change how kids learn.

“Technology is a tool. We need to integrate it into all subjects in a way that is meaningful and provides multiple access points for kids who want to engage with subject matter in different ways,” she said.

“This will help us figure out how technology integrates at this level of learning so we can find the best ways to use it on a daily basis.”

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 12. 2013 9:52PM
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