Wednesday, 28 February 2018 08:16

Opening a new app on learning part 2 Featured

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BANGOR - Part 2 of the series Opening a new App on Learning, We spoke with school officials in the Ellsworth school district about a pilot literacy program to understand how students can benefit from using iPads and smart apps in a learning setting.

"What makes this program work, is every child, K through 3 every child has their own iPad," said Tim McCluskey, Elementary Principal of the Ellsworth Elementary-Middle school.


Just under 400 students at Ellsworth Elementary School have been part of a pilot program called "Momentum" for a little over a year now. The whole idea is to improve literacy instruction.


"We got into it because it was offered to us through the Department of Education. They took a look at some of the schools that are struggling a little bit with their data and offered the program up to certain schools," said McCluskey.


Ellsworth is among eight other schools in the state involved in the project that uses learning applications on iPads to teach kids how to improve their reading, and writing skills.


"It's about getting our reading scores up we want to improve our reading scores because our goal is to have every child at their grade level reach their grade level bench marks by June," added McCluskey.


He said Apple representatives come in to help teachers use the equipment and literacy coaches help guide teachers and work with the kids.


"Provide professional development for our teachers so many days a month. So we're getting professional development, we're getting coaching," said McCluskey.


Susan Frost is a kindergarten teacher who's been teaching for the past eight years, she says using this technology with the kids allows her to track their progress.


"I just have seen our kids grow tremendously in their knowledge...they've found these apps that can help push them to the next level," said Frost.


Not only does this help to benefit the students but it also allows teachers to improve their teaching.


"The data that I have been given through the technology part on my end, I've just used that to drive the instruction, to know where kids are where they need to go next and how i can put them to get there," said Frost.


"You have to take a look at the data that you get back from student achievement and reflect upon your own teaching practice," added McCluskey.


Some of the apps are grade-level specific, and some are used across the board. Each app is used in class with different duration's of time.


"We've just a small amount of time that they're really on it, and really it's a great way for them to just be able to differentiate to be at their own skill and level," said Frost.


Each classroom works with the technology in different ways. Some set up wok stations, while others get together in groups. Each teacher touches base with students to make sure they're on-track and pulling the information from each lesson. Ipads aren't the only tool being used.


"We are not supplementing books for iPads. Books are still extremely important and children are still using books in our literacy instruction," said McCluskey.


He said that so far, the program has been very helpful. He said it will end either this school year or the beginning of next fall. He hopes to incorporate programs like this in the future.


"We want to take a look at the data you know we're constantly reviewing that. We are constantly doing that to make sure it's doing what it's goal is meant to be. And then we take a look at what can we be physically responsible for, for our tax payers. In asking them to approve and support what we want to do,' said McCluskey.


Gina Marini

Morning Anchor/Reporter
[email protected]

Gina Marini, a graduate of Curry College, joined WVII ABC7 and WFVX Fox 22 after spending a little more 2 years with NH1 News in New Hampshire. During her time there, she spent time traveling the state bringin...