Falls City schools embracing technology, add iPads to mix

FALLS CITY -- Falls City's teachers opened up their new teaching tools -- iPads -- for the first time last week.Many of the teachers were already familiar with the devices, while others ... well, let's say their learning curve will be a bit steeper.All were eager -- if not a little intimidated -- about learning how to use the resources iPads literally put at their fingertips.Whether or not the teachers are ready, using the devices in class is soon to be the new norm in Falls City schools.The goal is by the end of this year to have iPads in the hands of every student attending Falls City schools.Superintendent Jack Thompson said Falls City may be ahead of other districts in the area in terms of incorporating the technology in the classroom, but he isn't expecting students to think of it as revolutionary stuff."Kids today ... they are from a technology era," he said. "They do not view this stuff as technology. They view this stuff as the way life is. They are technology natives. This is how they grew up."We are teaching them in the context of what is their reality," he added. "That is the difference the iPads are making."Thompson said distribution of the iPads will be gradual, based on the comfort level of the teachers. Those with little experience will likely receive their classroom set later.Initial training was Thursday, to be followed by a second session on Sept. 20."We just got them into their hands," Thompson said. "Some of them are just learning how to operate them." First- and second-grade teacher Jennifer McConnell, who recently attended a workshop on using iPads in the classroom, sees opportunities to make learning more interactive for students.The dreaded book report is about to get an upgrade, she said, with apps such as iMovie -- or a similar "puppet show app" for younger students -- allowing students to tell their own story.And textbooks? There's an app for that, too. iPads allow students access to older textbooks and the ability to update them with new information."They can actually create their own, using pictures from the web, pictures that they make, and using what they have learned from various resources and putting it into their own words," McConnell said.Thompson said he understands concerns about use of the Internet in schools, but said the schools are also responsible for teaching students about safe and appropriate Internet use.Furthermore, Thompson believes the benefits of using up-to-date technology in the classroom outweigh the risks."The kids, they are amazing with these things," he said. "It's unbelievable. Technology is changing. I think this train is coming down the rail and we need to be on it, because it's not stopping."


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