Technology and Tradition

This article first appeared in the March 2013 Colonial Crier.

If you walk into a middle school or high school classroom here at Fairfax Christian School you will find an iPad on every student’s desk. In addition, all teachers, lower school and upper school alike, also have their own iPads. The iPads are being used for textbooks, for research, for note taking, for presentations and for additional learning through the use of apps. Required books for book reports and the McGuffey Readers are all available on the iPad. Our Bible classes download the Bible for use in and out of class. Other classes also capitalize on the use of iPads. To name a few, Dr. Walter Hays has his students place supplemental material and readers on topics in Physics on their iPads. Mr. Elwyn Darden’s AP Government class profits from the availability of iBooks in subjects related to the class. In addition, Mrs. Coleene Wilhelm has her ESL Speech students download their poetry books. Teachers and especially students appreciate having their books on their iPad simply because it is one less thing they have to carry with them.

The abundance of information available to our society through the internet is endless. While books still hold the most thorough information, basic and simple research is now done amazingly fast online. The ability of our students at FCS to access information through their iPads is invaluable. Easy access to information is valuable to all of our teachers. Even Mrs. Barbara Roach, the teacher of our youngest group of Kindergarteners, enjoys the ability to quickly give her children an immediate visual reference.

Quick and easy access to a variety of maps is helpful for our Geography classes. Mrs. Roach’s AP Art class uses the iPad to look at various artists and their works of art. This not only educates them, but also provides them with inspiration and ideas. Additionally, the iPad also has an amazing amount of useful and fun features and tools to make learning and teaching easier and more enjoyable. Just one example of this, Mr. Eric Lambert’s literature students have the opportunity to understand some of the more difficult pieces of classic literature. By simply touching on a word they don’t understand, they are then given the definition. Lectures and class discussions have taken on a whole new meaning as students now can take notes directly on their iPads. Students find that it is much more convenient to have notes or a list nicely kept and accessible on their iPads than to keep track of paper.

Miss Darlene Roach has her students create PowerPoint presentations of law cases in her Business Law class. Being able to do this has taken learning to another level, as the students are not just reading the words in a book, but are also applying what they learn to the law cases they present. Doing these presentations is enabling the students to gain valuable experience in putting together a presentation that is neat, informative and easy to follow. Oral presentations help students become comfortable with public speaking and presenting. One of the best things about owning an iPad is the apps. The Business Law presentations are created using the “Keynote App.” Miss Marini Castillo uses several apps with all her Spanish students, including one called “Drawcast,” which provides fun activities to enhance learning for her younger students. Her ESL Grammar class also uses the “Verb Mayhem” app for practicing verb usage.

Mr. Randy Marrs uses the “Economics” app and the “Periodic Table” app. Miss Rachael Sanders even uses a graphing app in her Algebra II classes. Parents, guardians and students who are interested in having access to all these great apps now have the opportunity to access them on ParentsNet on the FCS website.

The iPad use in our classrooms has obviously proven to be a valuable tool for our teachers and students. Each year, we hope to have more and more iPad textbooks and other resources available for our students. Our teachers are also capitalizing on and learning more about the use of Juno for giving tests on the iPad.