Del Mar Heights continues to take a proactive approach to technology learning

Fourth grader Kennedy Quay works on her iPad at Del Mar Heights. Photo/Karen Billing
Fourth grader Kennedy Quay works on her iPad at Del Mar Heights. Photo/Karen Billing

Del Mar Heights School continues to lead the way for the Del Mar Union School District in technology learning. For the third year students are using iPods in the classroom and this year, for the first time, iPads were introduced into fourth grade classrooms.

Technology at the Heights is completely project based, supporting what students are learning in the classroom, said Gail Moran, Extended Studies Curriculum technology teacher.

In no way are the devices a “babysitting tool” and Moran said one of the most exciting things to happen is that the iPads and iPods have changed the way teachers teach and the way children learn.

The program goes hand-in hand with the district’s goal to create a 21st century learner—students learn collaboration, communication, problem solving, media literacy and digital citizenship.

“We have to provide these opportunities for kids because in the future that’s what they’re going to need. We’re preparing them for jobs that haven’t even been created yet,” Moran said.

Del Mar Heights isn’t the only local school breaking new ground in technology.

Cathedral Catholic High School next year will become the first school in San Diego County with a school-wide One to One iPad3 program—iPads for every student. Parents will still purchase a limited number of textbooks and pay an annual fee for the iPad rental, apps and other technology needs.

“These young people grew up on this type of technology—they’re digital natives,” said Sean Doyle, director of technology in a press release. “We believe these devices will offer them access to more information for less money, as well as increase their efficiently and fully engage them in learning.”

Del Mar Heights’ iTouch pilot program launched in spring 2010 with one third grade class using iPods. In 2011, they added a second third grade class. This year, all three third grade classes have iPods and the fourth graders share one set of iPads.

Their program is constantly evolving, with help from generous PTA donations, and Moran hopes they are able to purchase a second set of iPads for the fifth grade next year.

Other schools in the district have started to look at mobile devices as well—Del Mar Hills has netbooks, Carmel Del Mar has netbooks donated by the Dad’s Club this year and Google Chromebooks will be piloted at Sycamore Ridge this spring.

The district is looking to make a decision in June about what type of mobile device will be implemented at all the schools and then it will be piloted at two schools’ fourth through sixth grade classrooms.

Del Mar Heights started its program on its own and its push with the devices is in reading and writing.

“Writing scores have improved. It’s a tool that the students like to use and teachers have noticed they are highly motivated,” said Moran, noting most everything they need is available at the touch of a finger, such as dictionaries or research. “That doesn’t mean that they never learn to put a pencil to paper. We did it overkill the first year with making them do everything on paper first.

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