Neary School’s iPad Pilot information packet released today

by beth on October 25, 2013

Post image for Neary School’s iPad Pilot information packet released today

Right: Technology expert Tom Daccord spoke to parents about technology in the classroom on Tuesday night. Neary School has posted the video to youtube for parents who couldn’t make it.
(Image copied from video)

As previously promised, Neary School Principal Murdock has released more information about the proposed iPad Pilot for 4th graders. She also posted a video of the October 22nd presentation on technology in the classrooms.

She asked me to share the information with readers. It will also be sent through the school’s email to all parents of K-8 students in the Southborough schools.

The materials are in preparation for the Parent forum next Wednesday, October 30, 6:30 pm at Trottier Middle School. In the letter below, she asks that people remember to be respectful of the committee members and teachers who worked on the pilot when they voice their opinions or concerns.

Here is her letter with links to attachments.

Dear Parents,

As promised, I am attaching two documents relating to our proposed 4th grade 1:1 iPad pilot project:

1. Draft document entitled “Project Goals & Student and Parent Guidelines
2. Draft FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) regarding the project

Please be aware that both documents are drafts — if you have comments or suggestions, please let us know. We have done our best to provide as much information as possible, and to answer all of the questions that we are aware of at this point, but we certainly welcome input and feedback.

Finally, just a reminder that we are having a meeting next week — Wednesday, Oct. 30th, 6:30 p.m., in the Trottier auditorium — for the purpose of hearing comments and suggestions and answering any questions that were not addressed by the earlier presentations or the attached documents. Please do review these documents and, if you have questions, please do come to the meeting next Wednesday.

At next Wednesday’s meeting, there may be a brief presentation, but most of the meeting will be for people to have a chance to share comments or suggestions and to ask any remaining questions not addressed by the presentations or documents. I would just ask that any comments shared at the meeting be respectful of the knowledge and hard work of our excellent teachers who have been working with this technology since several months after the first iPad came out and have spent many hours preparing for this project. We believe that this project will enhance and accelerate learning for our students and are hoping to have a partnership with parents to make it work for your children.

Finally, if there is more you want to know, don’t forget to take a look at the links on our website. There is much information on there about other schools that have implemented 1:1, research on 1:1 programs, use of iPads to differentiate instruction, and the like. Also, for those who couldn’t attend but would like to hear this past Tuesday’s presentation, the video will be up on YouTube until the end of next week. The link is: http://youtu.be/-nIm0YaZgP4.

Thank you and I hope to see many of you at the meeting next Wednesday! Meanwhile, have a great weekend!

Sincerely,

Linda Murdock

Linda A. Murdock,
Principal
Neary Elementary School
Southborough, MA 01772

For past coverage and letters to the editor on this pilot, click here.

1 Jerry Capra October 25, 2013 at 3:24 PM

A woman I work with has two children in a private school where an ipad 1/1 program has been initiated. I asked her to send me a note describing her experience with the program, and to not hold back if she had concerns.

I’ve redacted her last name and address (at her request) from this note to assure her privacy.

Beth; I will gladly provide you with a full name and address as well as phone number if you see a need to verify this information;

Jerry Capra
Southborough K-8 School Committee
——————————————————–
Patricia (redacted)
(redacted)
Norwood, Ma 02062

October 25, 2013

Gerald Capra
6 Strawberry Hill Road
Southborough, MA 01772

Dear Gerry:
I am a parent of two children who attend St. Catherine of Siena School in Norwood, Ma. I am writing to tell you my experience with our IPAD initiative. Last year, our school adopted a program to provide all middle school students with an IPAD. My two daughters were entering the 6th grade, first year of middle school and so were part of the IPAD program. We are now almost a year and one half into the program and I thought you might wish to hear my experience.

Each child received an IPAD and charger at the start of the school year. Each student and parent signed a contract agreeing that the IPAD and charger would be returned at the end of the school year. The agreement indicated that the device would be used for school work only. No applications or additional books or music were permitted to be downloaded. The school would monitor the devices. The IPADS were expected to be with the student each day and could be taken home on weekends, holidays and vacations. The text books and applications were all downloaded prior to the student receiving the device.

Almost one year and a half later, I can say the IPAD initiative has been a resounding success. My not totally responsible children have only forgotten to bring their IPAD to school once. The in-class extra IPAD was available that day. Note, multiple forgetting to bring the IPAD would result in detention. My children no longer bring heavy text books back and forth to school each day. I find they are more interested in the subject matter because of the dynamic display of materials. Communication between student and teacher is enhanced because it no longer relies on my kids taking notes. I find my children have an improved understanding of technology and the internet. They are more likely to search for the definition of unknown words. They feel empowered by the technology. In our beginning search for high schools, I observe my daughters drawn to schools that have in a similar way adopted this new and exciting technology.

Sincerely,
Patricia (redacted)
Parent

2 Neighbour October 25, 2013 at 6:08 PM

“6 grade” 4th grade
“Each child received an IPAD and charger” invest 700$

Patricia definitely should commit her kids to Phoenix Online right now and don’t wait until they done with school: great technology and even no teachers.

3 Concerned father October 26, 2013 at 2:03 AM

Operative word here, Jerry, is 6th grade! Why are people not getting it?

4 Sboro Mom October 25, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Anybody else raising an eyebrow at the fact that the recommended model (iPad Air) to get is the one that was only debuted 3 days ago? Just goes to show how outdated these devices will become.

5 Carrie October 27, 2013 at 10:16 AM

It’s Sunday morning and my 5th grader just showed me how to take a screen shot on my MacBook Pro. I also just had to email Ms. Murdock to ask to be taken off of the email distribution list for the communication surrounding the iPad initiative.

I had lunch with a friend who lives in Wayland and they have honors chorus in 5th grade while we have chorus once a week– on Fridays. I wish that there was as much focus, concern and frenzy in the other areas of our curriculum.

6 Sboro parent October 27, 2013 at 8:20 PM

Are you saying, Carrie, that you wish people were being more focused on other areas of concern in the school system besides the iPad intitiative? A little confused.

7 sboro concerned parent October 30, 2013 at 4:36 PM

According to the Mass Dept of Education, the current opt-out program is illegal. The school system cannot discriminate against anyone for opting out for any reason. If a child opts out, they must be given exactly the same equal rights as the child who opts in (taking the iPad home to complete school assignments and homework). Having other homework options that are different from the opt in children is illegal and discrimination. The DOE said that if the policy is not changed, the Dept will get involved to make sure that all children have exactly the same rights and are allowed identical advantages from the iPad program.

I am not someone who has been speaking out before and am not necessarily against the program, but I am for equal rights for every child involved. When I read the guidelines for the opt out program, I felt that I had to question it, and everyone should know that it is against the law. All children should be treated equal and given exactly the same opportunities. I am happy to know that the Mass law supports that and will enforce it.

8 Concerned Father October 30, 2013 at 8:33 PM

Well, that sure puts a spin on things! Interesting that this was not mentioned at tonight’s pep rally. And, they wonder why we question the legitimacy of this pilot???

9 John Butler October 30, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Parents and taxpayers who are thinking about this program may want some financial perspective on the budgetary implications of this for the schools. Looking at the data I can’t see why the schools don’t just buy these if they think they are worthwhile. Particularly given that it appears now that the parent funding plan was perhaps suspect on legal grounds.

The overall K8 budget is over $17 million. If this programs costs $150,000 per year, that is less than 1% of the annual budget. On the other hand it is impossible to suppose that an an educational impact that is less than 1% can be measured or even detected in any way. When the administrators speak in these provided documents about their hopes for educational improvement from the iPad program they cannot be talking about effects that are less than 1% because in it is impossible to discern or attribute a cause to any educational effect that is that small. If, therefore, we can conclude that they are expecting much larger than 1% in educational benefits, which I think they are, then it is logical that 1% cost is cheap.

Further it is not the case that the K8 system has all its budget money forever tied up in salaries and unrelated items. The K8 system during the last year for which full reporting is available (FY12) spent $486,000 on related instructional items, including “classroom instructional technology” ($269,000), textbooks ($133,000) and other technology and instructional materials ($84,000). So they are spending lots in this area already. They just need to decide how best to spend the money they have. If this seems like a good idea, then they should do it.

Lastly, note that there was never a parent funded experiment that preceded the current $269,000 per year spending on classroom instructional technology. So the notion that parents need to fund this because it is an experiment is an idea that was just recently invented and has never happened before.

We pay our educational professionals to make decisions on how to spend $17 million each year for K8. They can decide if this <1% belongs in their budget or not.

10 John Boiardi October 31, 2013 at 7:23 AM

Please explain how the ipad will be integrated into the curriculum. Will it replace books, blackboards, handwriting on paper? How do you prevent students from visiting unrelated websites? What about spelling? How do you handle homework?
I would be a lot more comfortable if I knew more about this giant jump into technology.

11 SB Resident October 31, 2013 at 11:30 AM

This is meant to be an unbiased answer. This is what the meeting last night was meant to address. Long story short, it is meant to replace nothing, everything old will still be taught, using this tech will just be taught as well and used to supplement teaching everything old. Homework is stored on the internet specifically google drive. Basically, the point is that this isn’t a giant jump, they are doing it already, so worries about implementation are few. There are just limitations to the school owned shared system that they would like to remove.

Biased portion. I think they have done a good job at addressing that portion of the issue. After hearing the teachers enthusiasm, it’s hard not to be on board with the theory. However I agree with John Butler above, this really is a money issue. During last nights meeting the money was brought up several times and the rationals were not very compelling. We have a declining enrollment, the ability to shutter a school, and teachers who are IMO very well paid. There is room in the budget for this. Maybe the next time the teacher contract is negotiated the school board will remember this and realize that if they fight a little harder, there are things that can be done with the leftover money.

Previous post:

Next post: