Last year, third- and fourth-graders in the Leavenworth public schools began using iPads in their classrooms. And now, fifth and sixth-graders at West Intermediate School are using the devices as well.
"They're doing most of their stuff on the iPads," teacher Suzie Lawson said of her students.
The sixth-grade language arts and social studies teacher is one of the instructors at West who's using iPads in classrooms.
During a class Tuesday, Lawson's students used the iPads to correct things such as capitalization and punctation in text as well as highlight pronouns.
Students can use the iPads to look up information on the internet. After a recent discussion about the Affordable Care Act, or what is often referred to as Obamacare, Lawson encouraged her students to look up information about the federal health care law.
When iPads were introduced last year at elementary schools, there was one of the devices for every two students in the third and fourth grades. But at West, there are enough iPads for each student to have one while at the school.
Principal Merrit Brinkman said West has a little less than 500 iPads, which is enough for the students as well as teachers and other support staff.
In addition to the core subjects, students are using the iPads for things such as band and vocal music. Brinkman said physical education instructors also are trying to find a way to incorporate the devices into their classes.
West students don't take the iPads home. But they carry the devices with them during the day as they make their way from class to class, according to Lawson.
"They're responsible with putting them away at the end of the day," she said.
Lawson said the iPads arrived after Labor Day. The teacher acknowledges there have been some glitches. She said the students are good at finding solutions when problems arise with the iPads, and they have helped each other.
"They are very innovative," she said.
The implementation of iPads at West is the second phase of what school district officials call a digital transition plan.
In May, Leavenworth school board members authorized the purchase of iPads, cases and other accessory items for the second phase at a cost of $258,917.
Superintendent Kelly Crane said the district's plan next calls for expanding the program to Richard W. Warren Middle School and then Leavenworth High School. She said implementation of these additional phases may be impacted by funding issues.
Crane said district officials are looking into whether students may be permitted to take home iPads in the future. She said a lot policy issues would have to be worked out first.