K-3 Teachers Getting New iPads for Upcoming School Year

Devices will track and improve students’ critical reading skills.
Photo courtesy of North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

K-3 students and their parents are in for a fun surprise as they head back to school. This week, State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced his office, the Department of Public Instruction, would purchase new iPads for all K-3 reading teachers in an effort to track and improve students’ critical reading skills and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Districts that don’t use Apple products will receive Chromebooks or similar devices.

"We are very excited about this because this device can help reduce burdens on teachers," Johnson says. "This device can help engage students. It's the future of where our education system is going."

How it Works: Through a selection of early literacy applications, teachers can track students’ progress without keeping volumes of papers, charts, and binders. Instead, the device helps monitor progress through both teacher-led and student-led activities that gauge their progress. These applications have been used to track student reading progress for several years, but DPI has changed some of its recommendations to reduce the time teachers must spend testing students

Based on valuable feedback from teachers, new recommendations for the mCLASS reading diagnostic tool will be sent out to teachers this month and will help reduce the amount of time students and teachers spend on assessments.

Personalized Learning Approach is Key to Successful Reading: Johnson has made personalized learning one of his top priorities. He is focused on making sure North Carolina’s educators have the resources they need to get kids reading at or above grade level by the critical benchmark of third grade, but is allowing them to do so at their own pace. As the father of a young kindergartner himself, he understands the importance of giving teachers access to many of the digital resources necessary for keeping up in an increasingly connected world.

Teachers agree: The new iPads will help educators streamline much of their course curriculum. For many, the new tool will mean having more than one device in the classroom. Apple Distinguished Educator Katie Gardner, who teaches kindergarten in Rowan-Salisbury Schools, says that iPads inspire her to find her voice and choice with the creative application of ways to reach and inspire her students. “My Apple iPad ignites my creativity in developing engaging language arts and literacy lessons,” she says. “The iPad supports my innovation in creating personalized and relevant tasks for my students to acquire and grow in literacy.”

The devices cost around $6 million, with money coming from previously unused funds out of the state's Read to Achieve program. Under this law, third-graders who aren’t reading at grade level by the end of third grade receive special help, such as attending summer reading camps. Back in March, the DPI also granted K-3 reading teachers $200 each to purchase literacy materials. 

Elizabeth Lincicome is the deputy community outreach coordinator for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. 

Categories: Early Education, Education, Guest Bloggers