Finger paints, picture books and iPads — the newest classroom tools for some preschools, kindergartens

Finger paints, picture books and iPads — the newest

classroom tools for some preschools, kindergartens
May 10, 2011|By Tara Malone, Tribune reporter

Dozens of preschool and kindergarten teachers are adding iPads to their classroom stocks of pencils and paints in an effort to hook young learners with the newest technology craze at the same time — or even before — their parents adopt it.
Primary students in several Chicago-area schools geared up this year with the touch-screen tablets, an expense school officials defend in an era of tight budgets by citing how intuitive they are for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds raised in a world of ubiquitous technology and constant connectivity.
"This is teaching to their world," said Superintendent Linda Vieth of Sunset Ridge School District 29. "Students still need finger paints and blocks. They need real books and paper in their hands. But this is another tool."
The North Shore district agreed to equip two kindergarten classrooms with a dozen iPads after a yearlong study convinced teachers and parents of their fit for young students. In all, district officials will buy 60 touchpad tablets for an estimated $36,000.
n DuPage County, Naperville School District 203 plans to provide each preschool classroom in the Early Childhood Center with two iPads this fall.
And Chicago Public Schools outfitted nearly two dozen schools with the tablets this year in a $450,000 pilot program that attracted 200 applications. Each building got 32 iPads, and four schools focused the technology in the primary grades. District officials are considering whether to expand the iPad grant next year, said Technology Education Director John Connolly.
"At first, we thought this is a nice little toy. No one had any idea what this could do educationally," said Principal Barbara Kent of Chicago's Burley Elementary School, which debuted iPads this year in preschool, first and second grades.
For primary schools that already have computers, the iPad will become one more technology tool in the classroom. But some schools have grappled to find a technology that best suits their youngest learners. The tablets with the flat screens and colorful icons that little fingers can manipulate seemed an ideal fit, educators said.
To be sure, several schools set ground rules to teach students how to care for the new gadgets. Check your fingers: If there's glue or glitter, please visit the sink. Carry them with two hands. Only use them with an adult present and ask before you explore, said Charlene Entman, technology facilitator for the Sunset Ridge school system.


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