Grant helps Athena school buy iPads

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ATHENA — Students at Athena Elementary will soon have new tablet computers to use for learning in classrooms.

On Monday, the Athena-Weston School Board accepted a $2,000 donation from the Watts Foundation that will go to purchasing iPad computers for use in classrooms. The donation is combined with about $5,000 raised through school fundraising to purchase several of the devices, said Jerry Copeland, superintendent of the Athena-Weston School District. About 10 iPad computers will be bought and set up for use as small learning centers in kindergarten through third grade classrooms.

The school’s Parent Club raised the thousands of dollars through a gourmet popcorn sale, one of the most successful sales at the school, Copeland said. But the fundraising efforts still left the group a couple of thousand dollars short to purchase enough computers for the students. The Watts grants helped make the program possible.

Copeland said students will be using the iPads in learning groups, or centers, where they can engage in learning that is right for their development, such as tracing words on the iPads to develop writing.

Unlike desktop or laptop computers, tablets are hand-held computers that are touch screen interactive. Users use their finger tips to click, drag, shrink or enlarge with specific movements.

Copeland also said the school is looking to grow the program.

“We hope to get more as we move forward,” he said. “This is just the start of that.”

The purchase of iPads for Athena Elementary follows a successful program at Weston Middle School where students take home iPads and use them in classrooms to develop writing in English courses. Unlike students at Weston Middle School, Athena students will not be taking iPads home, or focusing exclusively on writing development.

“Here it will be different activities depending on (students) abilities,” Copeland said.

Copeland said teachers will start by training on the iPads next week, then introducing the tablets in the classrooms.

“The teachers are pretty excited,” Copeland said.

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