Pick Up The Tabs
Maybe we’re biased, but the editors of Tech &
Learning think the question of whether or not tablets
as classroom textbook killers is not “if” but “when.”
And the answer? Sooner by the day. Here’s how some
districts have taken to adoption.
How many tablets do you have?
West Warwick (RI) Public Schools has 70 RM
Where are they?
Scattered throughout kindergarten through eighth grade, with five per classroom. “We gave
them to teachers who participated in professional development,” says Jim Monti, director of
educational reform, compliance, and technology.
How did you fund
A combination of local funds and federal grants (e.g., Enhancing Education Through
“We’re using them in the same way we’d use desktops or laptops,” says Monti, adding that
some teachers have started using them with Google Apps to get students to collaborate.
Kindergartners are creating vodcasts with RM Podium, an easy-to-use podcast/vodcast tool
“They love that, with a docking station, they have access to a keyboard and mouse,” says
Monti. “They love to unplug them and let the kids move around.” Other benefits are that
they can continue using all of the software they’re already using. “They love having access
to all of the Flash pages. It’s why we chose these over the iPad.”
“They’re a little less pleased with the non-elegance of typing on the screen. The touchtyping
is ok, but not great. The Microsoft keyboard spacing is not perfect.”
Any plans to buy
Monti plans to buy another 200 units for high-needs students in the district’s two
Title I schools. Also, teachers will begin learning how to use slates to create formative
Boulder Valley (CO) School District has 100
Samantha Messier, director of science, says
the iPads were used in summer school for ELL
students entering sixth, seventh, and eighth
grade, but the district is still figuring out where
they will go this fall. “We’ll have to identify
an equitable way to determine which schools
and teachers will get them,” she says. “We’ll
probably ask people to submit a proposal for
From multiple sources, including economic
stimulus money (ARRA), the local education
foundation, and general ed-tech funds.
“Visual instruction really empowers the children
who were in our summer school program,”
says Genna Jaramillo, assistant principal, K-8.
Teachers used the iPads to visually reinforce
science vocabulary and for Web browsing.
Students created movies relating to the
literature they read. Some teachers connected
the iPads to projectors and showed videos of
complicated science concepts.
Teachers really appreciate the iPad’s flexibility
and the abundance of apps. “It’s easier to get
a student to write a scientific conclusion on the
iPad than with a paper and pencil,” says Jaramillo.
“The teachers told us that motivation was a big
player; the kids were eager to use them.” Adds
Messier: “The iPad is an intriguing tool, both as
a platform for delivery of content in multiple
ways that are visual and auditory, and as a device
children can use to create and publish work.”
Jaramillo says the biggest issue was classroom
management. “Teachers had to have clear
guidelines on how the iPads should be used.
They went over the rules and had to stay on the
kids. But when I asked if it was worth it, they
said absolutely. The iPads give them so much
Once the iPads are deployed this year, the
teachers using them will be asked to find
strategies that support science, especially
the interface between science and literacy.
“We’ll collect quality data and figure out which
strategies are most effective to benefit student
learning and shape future rollouts,” says Messier.
HP Tablet PCs
There are around 300 HP tablets in the Schools
of the Diocese of Columbus (OH).
On carts at Bishop Hartley and Bishop
Watterson High Schools.
Through state and federal money.
“We have an LMS called BrainHoney (www.
agilix.com),” says Ken Collura, director
of technology. “Everything—including
assignments, correspondence, testing, and all
resources—is delivered on the tablets.”
Teachers can use them to differentiate
instruction and do group work that gets shared
through chat and text. They appreciate the
accessibility as well as the ability to record and
review on a 24/7 basis. “The tablets become
part of the student environment,” says Collura.
Battery life is a huge drawback. Also, the
hinges and latches got broken fairly easily.
Collura says today’s newer tablets don’t have
the same kinds of break points.
The district is switching to newer tablets that
have a longer battery life, fewer break points,
and a simplified operating system.
Weslaco (TX) Independent School District has
The district used Kineos this summer with 350
migrant students in grades 1 through 8, as part
of its Migrant Program. Afterwards, students
took the Kineos home for additional work. The
program’s objective was proficiency in TEKS
With federal money earmarked for migrant
Students used the Kineo tablets daily in the sixweek
program to practice the TEKS standards.
They used the “academy” program, combining
whole-class instruction, one-on-one with Kineo,
and small-group tutoring.
“The Kineos motivated the students to practice
their math skills,” says Mary Vaughn, who
manages the migrant programs. “The teachers
enjoyed the opportunity to work with the
devices because of the ease of the technical
“Other than a couple of technical glitches
that were easily resolved, the teachers had
no complaints regarding the Kineos,” says
Margaret Raleigh, Project Masters Migrant
The district has a sufficient number of Kineos to
service its migrant students, but will purchase
additional units if needed. “It would be
wonderful for all students,” says Raleigh.
There are between 80 and 100 Fujitsu
STYLISTIC Q550 tablets at the David Posnack
Hebrew Day School in Florida.
“We’re starting with the fourth and fifth
grades,” says Jeff Shapiro, IT director. “We
want to get them well-trained so they can
keep using tablets throughout middle and high
Private donors were so impressed with the
Fujitsu’s functionality that they paid for them,
Shapiro says the elementary teachers use
interactive whiteboards but wanted their
classes to be more student-focused and
interactive. The tablets allow them to
break students into groups that can work
independently on different tasks. “Our real
push with these tablets is to have differentiated
instruction,” he adds.
“They like that Windows 7 runs on them, so
they can use all the software the students are
familiar with and not have to do workarounds
to get Flash to work or to have full wordprocessing
capability. We just plug a keyboard
into the USB and go.”
“Lots of kids are looking for the appeal of the
iPad, but these are more useful for us and will
let us still have that tech edge.”
“We do. We’ve got the fourth-grade tablets on
carts and each fifth-grade student is getting his
or her own tablet to use. In sixth grade, they
will purchase their own tablet. Eventually, we’d
like to set up carts for the third grade.”
The Latest Tablets
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab