Dexter schools put iPads into hands of Bates, Cornerstone students for tech-rich learning

Eagerly awaiting instruction from Dexter Community Schools’ Technology Coach Meredith Nickerson, 26 second graders at Cornerstone Elementary School can barely contain their enthusiasm as they receive their first lesson on how to operate their new Apple iPads.

Navigating their tablets seemingly by instinct, these students are among the first in the state to participate in a study to determine the cost and impact of providing students with full-on, digital access to personalized learning opportunities. Funded by the Michigan Department of Education through the “Whole School Technology Transformation Grant” the Genesee Intermediate School District was awarded $5 million in November 2013 to begin developing a pilot program.

Both Bates and Cornerstone Elementary Schools applied and completed the rigorous selection process which ended in January 2014, when final applicants were selected with Cornerstone Elementary being amongst them. In an effort to maintain educational continuity between the district’s students, the $385,000 of grant money awarded through the pilot program was augmented to extend the iPad initiative to Bates Elementary School as well. By structuring this critical shift in technology to occur in both elementary schools during the same period of time, the district has been able to take advantage of the grant’s training program by enrolling both buildings’ staffs concurrently.

Currently, the iPads have been distributed to each second grade class and the district plans on continuing their integration with a staggered roll-out which will extend to first graders, kindergarteners and young 5’s.

Cornerstone Elementary School Principal Craig McCalla is looking forward to teachers learning more about each student’s learning process, “Individualizing for our students. The biggest thing that we’re excited about is we have students at all different levels … and we’re really looking at how do we use this technology as a tool to really give them their own targeted learning.”

With broad goals to foster more technologically literate students and ultimately better prepared graduates, Dexter as a school district and a community are clearly looking toward the future.

To hear principals Craig McCalla and Tim Authier, as well as technology coach Meredith Nickerson, give their thoughts about the iPad roll-out, be sure to watch our video coverage of this story.

Special Content Contributor Steve Ewing is the video and multimedia consultant on the WeLoveDexter team. He is also principal at The Digital Agent, producer of the Discover Dexter video.

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