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Growing Up Texas: Manor ISD brings new technology to the classroom
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You can’t walk down the street without seeing someone with a cell phone in hand or a tablet within reach.
Technology is becoming more accessible for people of all ages. This year, the Manor Independent School District is issuing iPads to all of its high school students. District officials say the best way to help a student learn is to meet them where they’re at, and kids these days are living virtually.
For the first time ever, all Manor High School students will get their own iPad. The tools are not just for use in class. Students will be able to take them home.
Randy Mathisen is a social studies teacher at Manor High school. He piloted the program in his classes last year. His students used them for interactive Q&A sessions and projects.
Mathisen said even the simplest tasks were made more fun for students with these tools.
“Taking something like a database question or a document they have to read, and putting it on a PDF and giving it to them on the iPad, increases their interest. It’s meeting them where they’re comfortable and they’re comfortable on mobile device. They’re comfortable with technology,” he said.
Getting long-time teachers on board with the technology is a different story. Some are apprehensive about trying the new tools but most are excited about them.
The iPads have even added to the teaching curriculum, including Linda Tejchma’s culinary arts class.
“If we want to try something new, there are a lot of great instructional videos for culinary arts. [I will say] ‘Go watch the video and then we can talk about it, so I really feel like it’s going to be a valuable tool in my classroom,” she said.
The high-tech tool can go even further than just helping in class. Some students have even used the iPads to virtually attend when they’re away.
“We’ve had kids say, ‘Well, if I’m home sick, can I conference in to the classroom? Can I use my iPad to get in?” So, we could do away with sick days. This could take care of the kid missing if they’re still able to catch the lesson,” Chief Technology Officer Angela Matthews said.
Before issuing the iPads, all students receive a lesson on digital censorship and accountability. They’re also taught how to use the tool responsibly.
“An iPad is still just another tool. It’s not going to replace a teacher. It doesn’t replace the best practices. It’s just another tool. It’s a very powerful tool, and the neatest tool I’ve ever seen in education,” Mathisen said.
The technology gives every student a new fun way to learn and a chance to pave the way for a future with more technology in the classroom.
“The fact that we’re able to provide this technology to these kids, [it shows] how far we’ve come,’” Matthews said.
The iPads were paid for using interest from district bond money that was going to be used to build new high schools.
Slowing growth has allowed the money to be used for resources like these. Manor’s elementary and middle schools are also using iPads though not on a one-to-one ratio yet. It’s something district officials plan to pilot this year and hope to provide in the future.