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District hands teachers iPad Minis

By Brandon Evans | Published Saturday, March 2, 2013

Teachers at Boyd schools will soon be trading in their apples for Apples.

In a step to move Boyd ISD closer to a one-to-one program, the district is providing tablet computers for all teachers in the district.

The board recently approved the purchase of 100 iPad Minis for the district’s 85 teachers.

One-to-one is an initiative that provides all students with regular access to their own tablet or laptop. Similar programs have already been implemented at Bridgeport, Chico, Decatur, Northwest and Paradise school districts.

Boyd Superintendent Ted West said they are starting with the teachers so they have ample time to be well-trained and prepared to lead classroom instruction with the new technology.

“Staff development is key,” West said. “We don’t want our kids just using these for Angry Birds and Facebook. This is a project tool … Technology is not just a fad. We need to embrace it.”

The district is still deciding whether to purchase laptops or tablets for the students. They’ve hired a technology consulting group to help the district determine how and what sort of one-to-one program to introduce.

“As far as what we’ll get and when, we don’t know yet,” West said. “By using the one-to-one, we’ll be making a shift from traditional classrooms to student project-based learning and higher-level thinking.”

Although one-to-one is still relatively new to education, a wealth of research supports improvements it can make to student performance.

A University of Kentucky study released last May analyzed a bulk of the research done over the past decade on one-to-one computing initiatives in schools. Although some schools didn’t see significant gains and actually scrapped their programs, the vast majority found improvements in writing, literacy, science, exam scores, grade-point averages and even student behavior.

And although the one-to-one moves away from the traditional textbook, it was in writing ability and literacy that students showed the most dramatic gains.

One of the earliest one-to-one programs occured at schools statewide in Maine in 2002. Writing scores in statewide tests showed “significant improvement.” A 2003 and a follow-up 2010 study provided one group of middle school students laptops, while a control group stuck to traditional teaching.

The laptop group “outperformed their peers in literacy responses and analysis as well as writing strategies” in both studies.

A 2006 study on 44 middle schools in Texas, where the majority of the schools were rural and the majority of students came from econonically disadvantaged backgrounds, not only found improved student engagement, but also better behavior. Students at the one-to-one schools had better attendance, reported being “more satisfied with school” and had lower rates of suspension than their counterparts at non-one-to-one schools.

West hopes to see similar improvement at Boyd.

“In order to improve student performance, we have to increase student engagement,” he said. “We need to better prepare our students to be where they need to be after graduating high school.”

Boyd is using Connected Consulting of Southlake to help implement the one-to-one program, which was pioneered by Abilene Christian University.

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