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Parent group donates iPads to Staples pilot program

Published 11:27 am, Tuesday, May 14, 2013
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The Board of Education on Monday unanimously accepted a gift of 15 iPads from the Staples High School PTA for use in an English pilot program at the high school.

The $9,600 gift -- which will include accessories and protective cases for the computers -- was raised through the PTA's annual program called PENS (Parents ENhancing Staples). The focus of this year's campaign was technology.

"We don't support iPads with our own technology crew," said Superintendent of Schools Elliot Landon. "So it's a great opportunity to see how they work, how they can be implemented, and what type of maintenance they might require before we even consider what type of large commitment we might make to iPads."

Last November, Staples High School English teachers Dan Geraghty and Brian Tippy gave a presentation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlRPC2lRl4g ) to the Staples PTA explaining how iPads could be used to customize learning in a Shakespeare course.

"Reading is changing, literacy is changing, we're living in a world of new literacy," Geraghty said. "Students are no longer flipping pages and reading left to right and top to bottom. Students are using hyperlinks and images and stopping to watch videos."

Teachers can create lesson plans to accommodate this shift, Geraghty said.

"We can start to make our own content, make our own books, create curriculum that we can focus on our students at a granular level and say, `This is what we teach as we go through this text. We can imbed it all in a digital format.' "

If, for instance, the subject is "Macbeth," students can take quizzes to gauge their level of understanding.

"The ability to tailor things to the individual kid is incredible here," Tippy said during the November presentation.

On Monday, Staples PTA Council Co-president Ginny McGovern said the presentation by Geraghty and Tippy was instrumental in garnering funds for the iPads.

"It was very detailed and amazing," McGovern said. "All the parents were so generous. It's going to be really exciting to see what they can do with that course."

If the course is successful, students could eventually use the iPads in other classes.

"I think it'll be a very good opportunity to learn about this technology and to get some good information on the long-term technology," said Board of Education Chairwoman Elaine Whitney.

Board member Brett Aronow said her daughter frequently uses an iPad and she has noted that the devices are fragile.

"Each iPad should come in its own indestructible case," Aronow said.

McGovern assured the board that each iPad will come with its own protective case.

"When we gave FlipCams, we included cases," McGovern said of a past PTA gift. "When we gave Kindles, we included cases -- because they're kids and you have to protect your investment."