Camden-Rockport school seeks more iPads after kindergartners see education gains

Mia Burgess, left, shows Rebecca Noone something on her iPad in Susan Lemeshow's kindergarten class at Sherwood Heights Elementary School in Auburn. Camden-Rockport elementary school has seen educational gains after giving kindergarteners iPads.
Amber Waterman | Sun Journal
Mia Burgess, left, shows Rebecca Noone something on her iPad in Susan Lemeshow's kindergarten class at Sherwood Heights Elementary School in Auburn. Camden-Rockport elementary school has seen educational gains after giving kindergarteners iPads.
Posted May 16, 2012, at 11:26 a.m.
Last modified May 16, 2012, at 6:03 p.m.

ROCKPORT, Maine — After witnessing reading and math gains by kindergartners here, Camden-Rockport Elementary School plans to ask the school board for more iPads.

The school bought four iPads for kindergartners last year for the first time. The tablets were given to students who needed help getting their reading and math skills up to grade level. The teachers hoped that with enough customized games, the children would learn their letters and numbers.

It worked, according to Sara Burke, the Camden-Rockport Elementary technology integrator.

“The students are highly engaged and motivated when they use the iPads,” Burke said. “They use literacy- and math-based apps like games.”

This, she said, translated into gains in literacy and math skills.

The teachers can adjust the iPad applications to each student’s needs. If, for instance, a student frequently mixes the letters “b” and “d,” the teacher can adjust the application for heavy use of those two letters. The students also can play multiplayer educational games with the iPads.

When not playing games, the children use the iPads like a whiteboard. But unlike a board, the children can change the colors and texture of their letter and numbers, which keeps writing interesting, Burke said.

Aside from the four iPads used in kindergarten, Camden-Rockport Elementary also has three in its special education program, which it purchased through grant funding. The school has budgeted money to buy 10 more iPads next year for the lower grade levels.

“I’m going to suggest to the board that we can use as many iPads as we can get because they’re a great motivator. They’re a lot more engaging. You can individualize the instruction. Students feel like it’s for them,” Burke said.

Auburn gave iPads to kindergartners in September 2011. A February report s howed slightly higher education gains in nine of 10 areas in students who were given the iPads compared to their peers who went without the machines. In the final area, which measured recognizing sounds and writing letters, students with iPads saw statistically significant gains over their peers.

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