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Technology has drastically evolved over the years to become one of the most powerful tools in education. An example of this at the Sandy Creek Central School District is the availability of handheld touchscreen tablets known as iPads. Three mobile iPad carts, each containing 30 rechargeable tablets, were obtained through grant funds and became available for classroom use at the start of the 2012-13 school year in September. The tablets are providing educators in the District with an engaging alternative for delivering instruction while also catering to a variety of age levels and abilities and increasing student-to-student and classroom-to-classroom collaboration.Students in Tammie Halsey's second grade classroom utilized the iPads to work on an ELA project that they featured at the Elementary School Open House this fall. The students worked with a partner to write and produce a video skit using a sock puppet application or "app" on the tablets. The skit was based around a vocabulary word of their choice from a classroom reading lesson. The students also utilized the iPads during centers, practicing vocabulary with a rhyming "app" and using a fun math fact "app" to practice addition and subtraction.At the fifth grade level the iPads were utilized by students for a picture book project. The students selected a non-fiction subject of their choice and utilized the tablets to gather much of the information on their selected topic. Students in Shelly Hathway and Brandie Norton's class worked collaboratively on the research component of the project, learning not just about their topic, but also how to research a topic. The students learned how to search for reliable information on World Wide Web and how to research items efficiently including how to bookmark websites to access the information again at a later date -- skills that all students will need to become college- and career-ready.There's even a plan to incorporate iPads into the universal pre-kindergarten classroom at the school. Educational "apps" are available to reinforce basic skills such as shapes, colors, numbers, counting, letters, and picture vocabulary. "It's a great alternative to worksheets and flashcards," UPK teacher Julie McNitt said, adding, "The [iPad] activities are interactive and hold a student's focus much longer than traditional activities. It's new and exciting and has a lot to offer as an educational tool."
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