Jefferson Middle Schoolers Benefiting From iPads

Jefferson Middle School sixth-graders, Reiley Kolstee, Mattea Spitzer and McKenna Cuifolo, work on their iPads during Tambra Hallett’s math class. Submitted photo

Jefferson Middle School co-teachers Stacy Monroe and Paul Baker’s recently used Google Expeditions to explore a cavern system in their sixth grade math class. The students use their iPads to see a 360-degree view of each of the chambers in the cave. While the students viewed the chamber, Mrs. Monroe told them important information, facts and their distance below sea level. As students virtually “descended” into the cave, they graphed their elevation (distance below the sea in this case) and labeled what section or chamber of the cave that they were located in. Students also graphed their elevation as they “ascended” back toward the Earth’s surface. Students absolutely loved the 360-degree view and going on a virtual fieldtrip to the Natural Bridge Caverns.

The math virtual field trip is just one of many ways that Jefferson fifth and sixth grade teachers are using iPads to enhance their student’s educational experiences. All fifth and sixth-graders at Jefferson have been given an iPad to use during the school day. Next year, Jefferson fifth, sixth and seventh-graders will all have in-school iPads.

In Tambra Hallett’s sixth grade class, Google Classroom is used to give out assignments such as: articles to read for ELA and social studies class, video tutorials from Math Antics, writing assignments using Google Docs, creating Nearpod presentations and reviewing games such as Kahoot. She also uses Google Drive, Google Slides, Prodigy, Raz Kids and Readworks. Students are able to write essays using Google Docs and receive quick feedback from Mrs. Hallett. Many of her students also use Google Slides to create presentations. English as a New Language students use Google Translate for a quick way to translate. Assignments are also posted on Google Classroom for students who are absent to complete at home.

“I think the students like using their iPads as part of their learning experience because it is more interactive,” said Mrs. Hallett. “Students can get feedback much quicker using the iPad in most cases. It gives them resources at their fingertips when completing assignments. It is a great way to keep organized and helps eliminate losing papers. I also get data instantly on how well the students understand what I am teaching. It allows me to make needed changes right away.”

In Adam Mason’s fifth grade class, Google Expeditions was used during a read aloud called The Thief Lord. The book takes place in Venice, Italy with many references to churches, buildings and bridges throughout the story. To help students visualize Venice with its canals, gondolas and beautiful architecture, Mr. Mason takes students on a virtual field trip to Venice to see what it looks like, along with most of the actual sites that were mentioned throughout the book. Mr. Mason also integrated Google Expeditions into their ELA rainforest unit, which talks about biodiversity. Mr. Mason used two different Google Expeditions to give his students a firsthand look at the diversity among plants and animals in the Borneo Rainforest. Mindi Lydell’s fifth grade class also used Google Expeditions on their iPads to travel to the Borneo Rain Forest, the Great Barrier Reef, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. As leaders of the expeditions, Mrs. Lydell and Mr. Mason developed questions to guide their students through the expeditions.

In Mrs. Lydell’s math class, she uses Google Classroom for extended response math questions each week as a way to review previously taught skills. Students read and solve the problems, submit the work and are able to receive grades and feedback digitally. In ELA, iPads were used to assign and turn in comprehension questions for the novel, Esperanza Rising. For science enrichment, Mrs. Lydell assigns students videos to watch by using sites such as Mystery Doug and BrainPOP. Students also write prompts to answer based on the newly learned ideas.

“I love using the iPads, I started with one at school last year,” said Jefferson Middle School sixth-grader Tatiana Karash. “A lot of teachers use the iPad to help us learn in school and it’s important to discover how to use the technology because throughout our life we will be using technology and we need to know how to properly use it.”