Phase 1 of expanding technology at Lexington School District Two is wrapping up this month, and students are exploring the worlds of reading, writing and more with brand-new tablets.
Funding from Title I, state grants and Lexington Two’s budget has allowed the district roll out a 1-to-1 technology plan in seven of its schools thus far. Thanks to voters who approved the bond referendum in November, remaining schools will receive their technology next year with those funds.
Schools in Phase 1 of the technology rollout are Pineview Elementary, Springdale Elementary, Congaree-Wood Early Childhood Center, Fulmer Middle, Pine Ridge Middle, Busbee Creative Arts Academy and Airport High School.
Educational apps included on the kid-friendly tablets for students in the 4K classrooms at Congaree-Wood Early Childhood Center might seem like only fun and games. But their teachers know they are practicing critical concepts they will use during the remainder of their educational career.
“They think they are just playing, but these are definitely skills they need,” said 4K teacher Shannon Parsons.
Students play counting games, hear words read aloud, compare shapes and learn how words are put together with just a few taps of their fingers. Apps even let them trace letters to help form proper writing habits.
“The games reinforce essential objectives,” Parsons said.
When practicing writing their names, a monumental objective in 4K, Parsons said her kids were excited to find similar letters in their names and those of their friends.
“It’s all about connections,” she said.
Rob Burggraaf, an instructional technology coach in Lexington Two, has been bringing carts of tablets to schools in recent weeks, and teachers then introduce the tablets to their students when it fits into their schedule. Congaree-Wood Early Childhood Center and Springdale Elementary were the two schools to be given materials for 1-to-1 technology most recently.
“We had one iPad for the entire class before this,” Parsons said.
Beth Williams, another 4K teacher, said it didn’t take her students long to figure out how to unlock the fun awaiting them inside the apps and games.
“They were on it,” she said.
“The tablets are easy to use, but students today are tech-savvy even at this age,” Parsons agreed.
Williams’ students gave the paparazzi treatment to classroom visitors last week. Pet birds borrowed from another class served as a science lesson in action, and students photographed them using their new tablets.
“We will print out a few of their photos and then write about the birds,” Williams said.
Students who have devices at home also showed their classmates who are newer to tablets how to navigate their screens. Parsons said asking for help and assisting a fellow student helps kids practice communication skills without realizing it.
The tablets will allow teachers to tailor instruction for students and send them games and apps to help them hone skills they aren’t proficient at yet. The devices have ESOL capability for students still learning English and can be customized for advanced placement students too.
“We brought in technology with developmental appropriateness,” said Rhonda Wiley, Lexington Two’s Early Childhood Education coordinator. “The content is rigorous and relevant.”
Lexington Two teachers at all grade levels urge parents to continue the interactive learning at home by recommending educational websites and apps. Parents can connect with their child’s teacher by visiting classroom sites through Lexington Two’s homepage.