by Paul McKibben
Using the latest technology is a priority for one New York Catholic school. St. Aidan School in Williston Park, NY, began its one-to-one iPad program in the 2012-13 school year with 50 fifth-grade students.
Using the latest technology is a priority for one New York Catholic school. St. Aidan School in Williston Park, NY, began its one-to-one iPad program in the 2012-13 school year with 50 fifth-grade students. Today, the school has more 200 students in fifth through eighth grades who are each using a school-owned iPad.
“We do feel that one-to-one is where the world is moving because everybody is using their digital devices on a daily basis,” said Mary Jane Radonic, the school’s technology coordinator, who teaches technology to students in fourth through eighth grades.
The school, which is part of the Church of St. Aidan on Long Island in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, has 529 students in nursery school through eighth grade.
Radonic said students love using the iPads. As students might occasionally forget homework or lunch money, students do offer the occasional excuse about forgetting to charge their iPads or leaving them at home. Each student has an email account and is allowed to email peers for school purposes, Radonic said. The school uses an app called Showbie (showbie.com) that allows teachers to review a student’s work on a tablet.
The school uses the iPads as electronic readers with Barnes & Noble’s Nook app. The school purchases e-books through the company. The school also uses other electronic educational services such as Khan Academy and Castle Learning.
St. Aidan has used money from an annual auction benefitting the school to purchase the iPads.
The school charges a technology fee for students in kindergarten through eighth grade in order to maintain and upgrade its technology program.
Before starting its iPad program, St. Aidan teachers visited the local public school district (Mineola Union Free School District), which was already using iPads and which had started the program with fifth grade too. Radonic said visiting the district was helpful. Her advice to other schools who are considering a similar program is to start out slow like St. Aidan did and make sure teachers are on board with it.
“Our teachers each had an iPad a whole year before this,” she said. “And we met once a month working to make sure… we were going to use them.”
The iPads aren’t the only technology the school uses. There are two computer centers and a library media center. The media center features desktop and laptop computers and video conferencing among other electronics. Every classroom in full-day pre-kindergarten through eighth grade also has a SMART Board.
Helene Pacher’s two sons graduated from St. Aidan, and her daughter currently attends sixth grade there. Pacher said the iPads “were the big change.” Her daughter can even do math homework in the car.
“We don’t use blackboards (in fourth through eighth grades) anymore,” Pacher said. “The students, they’re able to get a lot more information quickly through the use of the SMART Boards, and they’re more hands-on.”