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Massachusetts School Issues iPads to Every Student in Grade 6

The Cambridge Friends School in Massachusetts has issued iPads to each of its sixth-grade students and faculty members.

The school's two sixth-grade teachers, Sandra Rojas and Brooke Chandler, have been using the devices since February to support project-based learning as part of a pilot program.

"There is a strong research component to the work we do in 6th grade," said Rojas, who is in her ninth year of teaching at Cambridge Friends School. "During a project on Mayan culture, for example, students were asked to research the lives of the ancient Maya. From ancient trade routes to Mayan numbers, students used iPads as one of their research tools."

Rojas said that an app called TimeTours: Chichén Itzá is a good example of the iPad's interactive nature.

"You can view Mayan ruins on one slide," said Rojas. "With the swipe of a hand, you can see what the ruins looked like 1000 years ago. That’s something which is more difficult to achieve in the 2D environment of the printed page."

Chandler, a graduate of Cambridge Friends School who is currently in her seventh year teaching there, explained that students still begin their research with books and that the iPads are assigned for use in the classroom as a replacement for portable laptop carts.

"Our sixth-grade classroom teachers, Sandra Rojas and Brooke Chandler, have done an exemplary job in integrating the iPads throughout the curriculum," said Head of School Peter Sommer. "They have used them across the board in every subject area: in history and in English, in math, and in science, where they collaborated with Science Teacher Debby Knight on students viewing time-release photos of an osmosis and diffusion lab. Reports from faculty and students have been very encouraging, and we are entirely grateful for the Warners’ extraordinary support. With such a successful pilot program, we are hoping to expand the iPad initiative to other Middle School grades."

The pilot program was funded by Avid founder Bill Warner and his wife Elissa, whose son Lucas graduated from Cambridge Friends School in 2010.

Cambridge Friends School is the only Quaker School in Massachusetts and serves more than 200 students in grades pre-K through 8 with 53 faculty and staff members. The school has an annual budget of $4.4 million and a $3.4 million endowment.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].