Students: iPads make math exciting

Grant funds purchase of 35 devices at Judkins Middle School
2013-03-20T00:10:00Z Students: iPads make math excitingBy Lauren Foreman / Staff Writer / Santa Maria Times

Judkins Middle School students unveiled 35 iPad minis as part of a school iPad lab on Tuesday.

Students, who benefited from a $20,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. grant, received the iPads about two weeks ago.

“I’m more comfortable with electronics than I am with a pencil,” Jeremiah Rodriguez, 12, said.

Students and staff members at the Pismo Beach school said the devices have led to greater enthusiasm to practice math skills.

Seventh-graders used the iPads in a quiz Tuesday to graph linear equations and inequalities during their fourth period math class.

Camille Davis, a 12-year-old in the class, said the opportunity to use iPads makes math more engaging for students like her who do not enjoy the subject area.

“It makes fourth period a lot more fun,” she said.

Judkins Principal Ian Penton said in a school with a student population composed of more than 50 percent of students in the free and reduced-cost lunch program, iPads are a resource many cannot access at home.

“Just the novelty of the technology makes math more exciting,” Penton said.

Russell Fillerup, 13, said he had used an iPad before his school acquired them but that having iPads in school makes learning more interesting.

“I like it a lot better,” Russell said. “It’s more interesting, and you kind of get to do more stuff.”

Kristi Fuller, a pre-algebra, leadership and algebra skills teacher at Judkins, said she downloaded about 12 educational apps for students to practice and test academic skills.

The most commonly used apps include King of Math and My Big Campus, which Camille described as a school version of Facebook.

In the Lucia Mar Unified School District, 53 percent of eighth-grade students do not meet the placement criteria for algebra I in the eighth grade and instead enroll in algebra skills, a class that repeats seventh-grade pre-algebra concepts and foundational math skills.

Fuller said although her eighth-grade students struggle with algebraic concepts, the iPads have led to greater enthusiasm to master concepts.

“They put fourth 10 times the amount of effort,” she said.

Amy Jacobs, the marketing and communications coordinator for the Lucia Mar Unified School District, said the district has not yet planned to implement iPads at other district schools.

But Judkins students are already using the devices to practice academic software (the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt algebra Fuse program) that aligns with Common Core State Standards, internationally benchmarked academic standards involving a more analytical educational process.

The new statewide standards and accompanying Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium will replace the state’s current curriculum and assessment systems in the 2014-15 school year.

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