iPads incorporated into Clovis schools

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Cameo Elementary School sixth-grader Johnny Martinez uses an application on the iPad to work on his penmanship with speech therapist Dana Horne.

Liliana Castillo

Spanish education materials used to be limited.

That was before the iPad.

Clovis Municipal Schools has begun to disperse iPads among teachers and administrators to explore uses of the technology.

Eva Garcia, director of federal and bilingual programs, said the iPad provides an unlimited supply of books through an application called Tumble Books.

“We spent $3,000 on a little cart of books in Spanish,” she said. “And now we have an application that provides us an unlimited number of books in both English and Spanish. It brings us the best of both worlds.”

Chief Technology Officer Michael Lamb said about 120 iPads are being used district-wide and 95 percent are used in the classroom or for classroom support.

“The possibilities for this kind of mobile technology are very broad,” Lamb said. “We’re just getting into figuring out the best use for the technology.”

Lamb said administrators use iPads to check email and things such as purchase orders on the go so they aren’t tied to a desk.

iPads are being used elsewhere in the district for specific purposes such as occupational, physical and speech and language therapy.

“The iPad so enhances what they’re doing, they continue and take off on their own,” assistant technologist Susan Smith said.

A blind student at CMS is using an iPad that can read to him from a Braille book that was originally four big volumes, Smith said. Another student with a stuttering problem speaks, and an ever-present iPod records his statement and plays it back to him, minus stutters, so he can learn how it should sound.

The touchable, easy-to-use, mobile technology provides more opportunities for individualized instruction, Garcia said. Because iPads are smaller and have better battery life than a laptop computer, teachers can move them around easily and not have to worry about finding an outlet.

Garcia said using technology like the iPad targets all styles of learning such as visual, auditory and tactile learning.

An application on the iPad allows students to touch a pond and see and hear ripples. Another will read a story and highlight the words as it goes so students can hear how words are pronounced and see them at the same time.

Lamb also said iPods and iPads are considered mainstream but some of the district’s population don’t have access to that kind of technology at home.

“So we’re also introducing them to this kind of technology that they might not otherwise ever use,” he said.

The vibrant technology keeps students involved in assignments they wouldn’t otherwise stay engaged in, Cameo speech therapist Dana Horne said.

Lamb said children and teens have no problem with iPads, picking them up and taking off with little to no assistance. Adults, on the other hand, are having a difficult time knowing what to use them for.

“Fear is the biggest factor,” he said. “There is no fear for students.”

Using iPads will also help the district save money. Lamb said an application for an iPad or iPod usually costs $2, and applications are less expensive than similar software for a computer or an expensive piece of equipment the software needs to run on.