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Catholic school uses iPad as learning device

Holy Family Grade School pilot program keeps students on the cutting edge of tech.

September 19, 2011|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • From left, Natalie Oporta, 13, and Olivia Luna, 13, use iPads to follow a fellow students presentation at Holy Family Grade School on Monday, September 19, 2011. (Roger Wilson/Staff Photographer)
From left, Natalie Oporta, 13, and Olivia Luna, 13, use…

Holy Family Grade School teacher Krikor Kiladjian on Monday led his eighth-grade students through a traditional social studies lesson in a very non-traditional fashion. They took turns at the front of the classroom, plugging in their iPads and walking each other through charts depicting various geographic regions that were projected onto a pull-down screen.

Classmates followed along at their desks on their own devices.

“It has been working really well,” Kiladjian said of integrating the iPads into course work. “Even fairly mundane things like homework they are excited to do.”

After the Catholic school launched its iPad program at the start of the new academic year, all 61 of its seventh- and eighth-grade students now use the tablets on a daily basis. Conceived by Holy Family pastor Rev. Jim Bevacqua, and modeled after a similar effort at St. Genevieve Elementary School in Panorama City, school officials say they hope to expand it to lower grade levels in the near future.

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“When we say we are preparing kids for high school, by the time that they move to ninth grade, they must have all the necessary technology research skills,” Holy Family Principal Fidela Suelto said. “How do we address that? We address that by getting what is new on the market.”

Families are responsible for covering the cost of the device, Suelto said. Some chose to buy the iPad from an Apple store, while others opted for a $650 educational package through the school that included a two-year warranty and two dozen iPad applications.

Holy Family also provided a rent-to-own option for families who could not make the purchase outright, Suelto said.

After some initial trepidation, the school’s parents have embraced the program, participating in strong numbers in iPad training sessions tailored specially for them, Suelto said. Students and parents sign a user policy that spells out the school’s goals for the technology, she added.

Downloading music and games are allowed, but can only be used with a teacher’s permission, or after school. The iPads are not taken out to the playground during recess or lunch, and students are responsible for charging them at home overnight.

Students said they discover new education apps on a daily basis, and estimated they are working on their iPads about 60% of the day.

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