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Test scores rise, misbehavior drops with iPads

Middle school principal, students say technology has boosted learning

It’s common to see today’s middle school students with their eyes fixed on an electronic device, such as an iPad. What is less common, however, is to see an iPad being used by a pupil in their classroom.

At Neil Armstrong Middle School, not only is this practice encouraged, it’s vital to the school’s curriculum, Principal Brandon Hundley told the Forest Grove School Board Monday night.

Hundley talked up the progress his school made in 2013-14 using more than 500 new iPads in a pilot program. Not only has the technological integration increased students’ ability to be engaged both inside the classroom and at home — extending learning beyond regular school hours, Hundley said — but NAMS also saw a dramatic increase in attendance last year: 94 percent.

Featuring a variety of apps and reliable web access, the iPads cater to different learning styles, boosting students’ willingness to learn.

“We’ve really changed the dynamic of learning beyond classroom instruction,” said Hundley. “This is much more about how you take information, apply it to a problem and solve it.”

NAMS eighth-grader Ben Heisler told board members the iPads “expand [students’] technological experience.”

Briana Larios, also an eighth-grader, and Heisler provide support to their peers and teachers when it comes to using the iPads to their full potential. They said the experience has inspired them to think of all the careers they might encounter post-high school.

“Nearly all careers will require an adaptation to evolving technology because technology is everywhere,” explained Larios.

Hundley reported that in the first few weeks of school, the NAMS office had been “very quiet,” mostly due to a sharp decrease in the number of behavioral infractions since the iPads made their debut.

Meanwhile, Hundley has seen improvements in seventh- and eighth-graders’ reading scores, but math remains a bit of a struggle for some students. The iPads might allow the school to deviate from its emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), toward STEAM — adding applied arts to the acronym.

A video created by Larios and Heisler, featuring students and teachers using iPads in various settings at the middle school, underscored STEAM as one of Superintendent Yvonne Curtis’ aspirations.

 

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