Neary’s technology presentation still leaves unanswered questions for some. How about you?

[Editor’s note: I can’t pretend I don’t have opinions on this topic.

Major changes to how the 4th grade is taught will eventually impact my family. My husband has been one of the “concerned parents”. (He has been asking questions about the long term effects of increased reliance on technology.)

But I can’t recuse myself from covering this, because I don’t have any one to cover it in my place.

So, I am trying my best to share the information from all “sides” objectively. I will leave it to the commenters to share and exchange their opinions.

If you think my coverage is unfair in any way, feel free to call me on it.]

Last night, about 50 interested and/or concerned parents attended a school technology presentation at Trottier Middle School. They responded to the invitation from Neary School Principal Linda Murdock.

The intent of the presentation was to learn from an expert the ways using 1:1 technology in the classroom “can transform teaching and learning.” Tom Daccord, co-director of EdTechTeacher, Inc., spoke to parents based on his experience helping school systems integrate technology.

This session was offered to help parents understand the potential behind Neary’s proposed iPad Pilot for 4th grade students. Murdock is looking to launch the pilot in January.

After his presentation, Daccord fielded questions from parents. He tried to address general concerns.

However, he couldn’t fully address all of the specifics. (For instance, he didn’t discuss any comparable fourth grade 1:1 programs.) And he was not there to explain the details of the Neary pilot.

Parents still have an opportunity to ask questions at the Parent Forum on October 30 at 6:30 pm. The forum will take place in the Trottier Middle School auditorium.

Before that event, Murdock has promised to release more information about the pilot specifics. Packets will be sent home with fourth graders this Friday, October 25th. They will also be made available electronically to the public and parents of K-3 students.

To read previous posts on the pilot, click here.

Did you attend the October 22nd presentation?

If so, share your experience.

Did you walk away reassured or excited to move forward? Share your enthusiasm.

Did you have unanswered questions? Share your concerns.

(Photo posted to Flickr by flickingerbrad)

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Frank Crowell
10 years ago

Let me see if I have this right: 50 parents show up for answers to there questions and the only one answering questions was an outside consultant who knew none of the specifics. No one was there to address specific questions?

10 years ago

I attended the meeting and found two major themes: Balance and Implementation. I think these themes actually strengthened a non 1:1 position. When implementing such a balanced approach, having 1:1 seems like overkill. The current method of school owned iPads time shared amongst the classes seems fine. His examples showed students using the iPads for specific projects etc. There weren’t any examples how this would be integrated as a tool the students would use throughout the day justifying 1:1. There also weren’t any examples of how this would be used at daily at home for homework.

He also stressed that the teacher implementation is key. In order for me to see the value for the extreme cost, I would need to see a very detailed plan on how these are going to be used daily. I saw nothing last night and I have never seen anything beyond kindergarten apps that could actually be used in the classroom.

His examples only included what he called green apps (general apps like skype, garage band, web browser that can be used for anything), that teachers would need to use creatively to integrate into the curriculum. His other main example was how they can be personalized, saying that text can be read aloud or formatted for kids with dyslexia. I can just hear that Siri voice coming from 20 iPads at once. Are these really the best examples of why tablets in the classroom is good?

Personally I’m for iPads in the classroom, I can envision some awesome uses for these things. Some examples) Kids could answer questions mid lecture and the teacher could see real time answers from everyone to see if the kids are ‘getting it’. The teacher being able to schedule a calender with due dates and test dates and it just popping up on the kids’ calendar automatically. This could be a real time saver for teachers too, the iPad can grade homework/quizes for the teacher, and graph results and feedback to the teacher problem areas. The list goes on and on and on, but I’ve never seen this software and if it does exist, I’m sure it’s not free. I was hoping to see stuff like this last night and saw nothing. My conclusion is that the technology just isn’t there yet.

I buy what the guy is selling, tablets (computers) are important and will become even more important in the future. These are tools that kids should be using to supplement their education. I don’t believe that learning how to write and problem solve are going to be lost by bringing these into the classroom. I don’t believe that the pediatric recommendation of 2hrs screen time is valid. I don’t believe the wifi is going to give the kids cancer. ( BUT, I also don’t believe that the 4th grade teachers are going to come up with daily uses for the iPads that are going to justify the cost. I really want to be proven otherwise (with a plan and presentation not a PILOT), but until I am, I will be against 1:1.

Outside of that, last night presentation also offered zero answers on why iPad vs mini vs android vs laptop vs web-based etc. It also offered no examples on how other communities paid for the cost.

10 years ago

I attended the demonstration last evening. To be honest, I went in not expecting to get my specific questions answered, as that was the expectation set forth in the meeting invite. However, even with that said, I was hoping that I would get a better understanding of how the iPad would be used in the class. Unfortunately the demonstration was all generalization and conceptual ideas. I was hoping to see examples of “this is how your fourth grader could do math” (or other relevant subjects). I guess I was hoping for an example of “A day in the life” and I didn’t get it. Most references (except for a video on butterfly presentations) seemed to be pointed at students in higher grades (which is one of my concerns since I feel that is where this belongs).

Conceptually – I understand the iPad use. A more robust platform/tool that can allow students to educate themselves at their own pace, while expanding their options on how to achieve their goals. I just wish I could be shown some “such as” examples.

Like I said, I found it too general and quite frankly – sales pitchy. Hopefully the Oct 30th meeting will be better suited to address more pointed examples.

10 years ago
Reply to  SBRes

I agree. It was very general and sales pitchy. I felt like I could have heard the same thing at any major electronics store. To be honest, through a lot of the meeting I kept thinking, how much did they pay this guy to come here?

I for one am not sold on this and will be at the meeting on the 30th. I do not have a 4th grader, but I do have a 7th and a 2nd grader. I still feel that this is not the right age to expect a student to be responsible for such a costly device. I know this is the way of the future, but testing on 4th graders? I’m lucky my son remembers his lunch 90% of the time, and homework….I have already dropped off enough assignments to school this year.
Some questions my husband and I have are how is the school going to handle all the wifi traffic & keep the devices “safe”? How will they monitor OS/App upgrades (are they being done), How can we “lockdown” the device, etc. Cost is definitely an issue. Apple does a discount for educators, will there be some kind of discount for this?

There is not a lot of information being supplied about this program and I don’t think it has been totally thought through. One of the memos from Principal Murdock states info will be sent home by Oct 25th. Is this only being sent to 4th grade parents or to all parents? Can’t wait to see this information & for the meeting on the 30th.

Concerned Father
10 years ago

I really don’t know what to say about last night’s presentation except it was exactly what I thought it would be. It was a sales pitch that did not close the sale for me. Matter of fact, it actually cast more doubt.

10 years ago

I was also at the iPad meeting on Tuesday night. I am the parent of a 6th grader and am very interested in the iPad discussion and proposed pilot. I do agree with earlier comments that Tuesday’s presentation did come across as a bit of a sales pitch and that the presenter did not adequately address parent questions that were raised at the conclusion of his presentation. However, we were told that this particular meeting would be more of a presentation style and that the opportunity to have specific questions answered would occur at the meeting scheduled for October 30th. I am optimistic that the meeting on the 30th will do more to address the specific and legitimate concerns raised by parents in comments on this blog and at both the Tuesday night meeting and the recent School Board meeting.

I appreciate Ms. Murdock’s efforts to provide the school community with information on the proposed pilot. If parents are expected to support such a significant project, especially one that comes with a steep financial burden, they are entitled to have all of their questions answered and to be presented with evidence that the implementation of the program has been extremely well thought out. Thus far, I have not seen any evidence that really gets me excited about the 4th grade going 1:1 with iPads. In fact, the longer the discussion continues, the greater my misgivings that this program is in any way necessary to enhance the learning of our students. Something that would carry a great deal of weight with me would be to hear testimony from our Neary teachers. My son had a wonderful experience at Neary. His 4th and 5th grade teachers were both outstanding. I respect each of them very much and I think it would go a long way in my mind if our own teachers were to explain why they feel strongly that the 4th grade should move to 1:1 iPads. I would assume with a proposed January start date for the project that the teachers have all undergone quite a bit of training at this point and probably have lesson plans and ideas for implementing the iPads in their classrooms. Let’s hear from them. Why do they want each child to have an iPad? What would a typical day look like? What would a week look like? What is the added value? So far, I haven’t seen anything compelling to convince me that there is any benefit that would justify such a significant cost. Following Tuesday’s presentation, I was wondering if laptops aren’t the way to go. I am very open to hearing more and learning more.

In addition to hearing from our teachers, perhaps we could invite an administrator from a school already running a 1:1 iPad program. What benefit have they seen for their school and students? I would think that during the course of planning the pilot program, Neary might have been in contact with such schools to learn from their experiences and mistakes. I know of one school in a neighboring town that has 1:1 iPads at the 7th and 8th grade level. There must be more schools around and I think it would be very beneficial to hear from them.

Thank you, Beth, for providing this forum for healthy discussion and thank you to everyone who has left such thoughtful comments. I am also grateful to our school administrators and teachers for always providing our children with exceptional educational opportunities and I appreciate that you are listening to and addressing the community’s concerns about this particular initiative.

Southborough Mom
10 years ago

I’m a supporter of the 1:1 Neary IPAD pilot. After reading through the comments that came in on the subject, I started looking at the research available. While all studies can be biased, the results of what many school districts are finding is supportive of doing a pilot in Southborough, in my opinion.

Many studies show that test results are improved for those students using IPADs in the classroom. Whether the test scores are improved due to increased enthusiasm or the actual device can be debated- but does it really matter? I know my 4th grader is happy to do her math practice on the iPAD, but trying to get her to do the same work on paper is a real struggle. The main point is that she is practicing- and if the technology make the practice fun- all the better.

I agree with this quote from Parent’s magazine-
“True learning isn’t just about memorizing history facts and solving math problems. Learning is an interactive — and lifelong — process of analyzing, questioning, and discussing; learning is looking for new meanings and unique applications of knowledge in every situation.
There’s a big world of questions, places, and people out there: Try to expose your children to as many meaningful experiences as possible. You’ll broaden their knowledge, improve early childhood education, and cultivate the type of awareness and appreciation that can’t be taught from a textbook. ”

That is what this pilot is about- finding new ways to get children excited about learning.

Some additional interesting reads.

4th Grade Father
10 years ago

The first article references helping children with Algebra 1. The second article focuses on older children as well. One of the key issues with the proposed project is that we are talking about 9-year-olds. If we were talking about middle school or high school, it would be a different story. What percentage of pilot projects out there are for the 9 and younger category?

The last article you reference states:

“But some teachers like Larry Cuban, a professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, are cautious of the educational value in iPads. “There is very little evidence that kids learn more, faster or better by using these machines,” he told the Times. Will students grow to become too reliant on the iPad? Everything from three-dimensional graphics to functions like an on-hand glossary and digital flashcards transform learning into a simple tap of the screen.”

“iPads are marvelous tools to engage kids, but then the novelty wears off and you get into hard-core issues of teaching and learning,” Cuban said.

Another interesting article linked to the last article listed above says:

“Because iPads start at $500 a pop — probably less in volume, educational pricing — they’ll be considered a luxury by taxpayers. Schools who want iPad textbooks will either have to lay out hundreds of thousands of dollars up front, or decide which students should be privileged enough to get the tablets first. Woe is the school board that has to make that decision. Also, unless a school goes all-in, it’ll still have to rely on paper textbooks, relegating iPads to gimmick status in a handful of classrooms.”

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