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iPad Pilot Program Takes Off

7th Grade Miscoe Hill Middle School student Dean Sheehan studies a map on his iPad during a Geography class. Sheehan is a part of a team of students piloting a new iPad Program put into place at Miscoe this year.





Eighty-seven students and three teachers at the Miscoe Hill Middle School have been learning their basic school subjects in a new and innovative way. These students and teachers are part of an iPad Pilot Program meant to bring increased technology to the district.

The pilot program, which was the brainchild of Superintendent Dr. Joseph Maruszczak, has put iPads in the hands of a team of 7th grade students at Miscoe thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Mendon Upton Education Foundation (MUEF). MUEF raised over $39,000 for this pilot program through multiple fundraisers, including the Rock n' Roll for Education Fundraiser held on November 4 at Imperial Ford in Mendon, and through a five day Social Media Fund Drive in December where donations were solicited through various social media outlets including e-mail, Facebook, and by word-of-mouth.

The students received the iPads at the end of January, and have been using them ever since to complete assignments, worksheets, and homework online. In English classes, students are using the iPad for journal entries and for daily oral language assignments. In Geography classes they are using the iPad for interactive maps and for getting online information about geographic locations. In Art classes the iPads are being used for photography assignments. The district also hopes that down the road they will be able to download textbooks to the iPads to replace the paper copies.

Miscoe Hill Middle School Principal Ann Meyer is pleased with how the iPad pilot program has been going so far, but admits that it is not without challenges. "The students are incredibly engaged," she said. "But there has been a huge learning curve for the staff."

She credits the team's teachers for helping to head the pilot program in the right direction, and for making sure there was a smooth transition for the students from day one. "The teachers are flexible, hard-working, phenomenal; they are working on getting as much out of the iPads as possible," she said. Meyer also said that they have received "nothing but positive feedback from the parents" about the pilot program.

The hopes of both Meyer and Maruszczak is that next year they will be able to expand the pilot group to the entire 7th grade, and eventually be able to grow the program "up and down," including expanding to the High School.

"This is the direction where we need to head as a district," said Maruszczak. "It makes so much sense, this is what our students will see in college," he said about the new technology. Maruszczak said funding for the additional technology is still in the "thinking" stages but that it will most likely come from a "hybrid model of funding," including grants, the school budget, fundraising, and possible from parents. "Ultimately, how we fund [new technology] is a community-wide decision," he said. Maruszczak hopes that the next year to year and a half of the pilot program will demonstrate to the community the potential of increased technology in the district.







7th Grade Miscoe Hill Middle School students use their iPads during teacher Kathy Rhodes' Geography class. There are 87 students and three teachers taking part in the iPad Pilot Program that began in January.




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