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Union — Kindergarteners at Union Elementary School are enjoying their young educational adventures with the aid of iPads.
Teacher Kristi Todd uses a combination of iPads, projectors, books and videos to align all her learning activities to the Common Core State Standard.
"She embraces change and takes learning to a whole new level," said Principal Christina Wotton about Todd's pilot program.
The iPads were purchased a couple years ago by the Regional School Unit 40 technology department, and originally were dispersed in several classrooms around the district.
"It seemed like there was no way of keeping quality data," said Wotton, so Linda Trenholm, director of technology, worked with administration to find a good candidate for one-on-one instruction. That's when Todd and Tami Casas, second-grade teacher at Prescott Memorial School in Washington, were chosen to conduct the pilot program.
The program began in February, and within a week of receiving the iPads Todd had personalized them with a photo of each student and customized each one with the child's unique instructional needs.
Based on assessments, each student has his or her own list of challenging words. They practice those words in many different ways — writing on a dry-erase board, using an app that says the word aloud and the child uses letter tiles to make the word, as well as doing word work (i.e. changing cat to mat).
While the students work in these various "corners," Todd pulls students into small groups to work on other specific skills. Ashley MacDougall, a senior at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, also assists Todd with extra individual attention to the students. MacDougall plans on attending either the University of Maine at Augusta or Thomas College to major in early childhood education or special education.
Other technology allows books to be projected onto a screen at the front of the classroom, where students can show how they learn about a particular word in a book. Students have learned how to use a glossary and the table of contents to figure out the meaning of challenging words and where to locate a particular subject within a book.
Eleven of the 14 students have some form of computer at home.
"The iPads help us learn," said student Jennifer Lind. "And there are some fun games on there that don't help us learn," said classmate Tasker Holmes.
This is Todd's second year at UES. She taught for 12 years at Miller Grade School in Waldoboro.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg to what Mrs. Todd is planning to do," according to Wotton's school newsletter.
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Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.