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Emily and Ozzie, third-grade students of Jaana Mutka at Brayton Elementary School, demonstrate how they use iPads in their classroom for math, geography and writing.
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Susan Candiloro, a fourth-grade teacher at Greylock Elementary School, talks about how she uses iPads in her classroom.
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Jaana Mutka, who teaches third grade at Brayton Elementary School, uses iPads on a regular basis in her classroom.
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Teachers, students and visitors from Williams College listen to how the three-year iPad program has worked out.
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Mutka watches Emily work out a fraction using cutouts underneath the iPad's camera projected onto the screen.
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Greylock fifth-grade teacher Audrey Carrano helps some of her students show off the books they created on the iPads.
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Erica Manville, who teaches visual arts at Brayton Elementary School, shows a QR code she created to help students more easily access Internet-based assignments on the iPads.

North Adams Teachers Show Off iPad Classroom Creativity

By Rebecca DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Erica Manville, who teaches visual arts at Brayton Elementary School in North Adams, shows how her students used iPads to do a project involving creating 'selfies' and then putting themselves in different locations —  like the Eiffel Tower.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Learning the geography of New England. Creating illustrated books. Studying how to draw koi fish using Japanese techniques.

These are just a few of the innovate ways teachers at Greylock and Brayton elementary schools are using iPads in their classrooms — iPads given to the schools through their relationship with Williams College.

Williams students have been working with the two North Adams schools for 15 years. Three years ago, Williams secured a $20,000 Verizon grant to get iPads that would be shared between fourth-grade classrooms at two schools and used with the assistance of the college students.

With donations from Williams as well as other funding sources, the iPad program grew, moving up to the fifth grade with the students who started in fourth grade and moving down to third grade at the behest of a teacher eager to incorporate the technology into her classroom. Each school also is now able to have its own iPads instead of shuttling them back and forth between the schools.

"It's really grown that way," said Jennifer Swoap, director of Elementary Outreach for Williams College's Center for Learning in Action.

Swoap was able to see firsthand how the program has grown when she and several colleagues from Williams joined teachers and students from Greylock and Brayton in giving a demonstration of their iPad work on Wednesday after school.

Susan Candiloro, a fourth-grade teacher at Greylock now in her third year of using the iPads, said she first thought the tablets would be useful mostly for specific projects. Now, she has gotten so many ideas on how to incorporate them more into her daily lessons.

"I'm seeing how they can be used more for instruction," she said, adding that she hopes the program will be able to continue moving forward, perhaps to the point that every student will have his or her own tablet. "We're still in baby steps. We have a long way to go."

Candiloro showed off some of the work her students are doing, including movie trailer-style animations but for books. She was joined by Jaana Mutka, a third-grade teacher at Brayton, who had two students demonstrate the two apps she likes to use in her classrooms.

"We use it daily quite a bit," Mutka said as the students worked out math problems and labeled each state in New England on an iPad projected onto a screen. "They pick it up so quickly."

Greylock fifth-grade teacher Audrey Carrano showed off the books her students have created, noting that the Book Creator app allows the students to be creative within the assignment.

"They all chose a different font, different designs, different colors," she said.

Carrano's students also used a writing assignment in their paper journals as a starting point for a Book Creator project.

"When it went from paper to here, it really came to life," she said. "They knew people were really going to see it. There was an audience."

Beyond math and English classes, the iPads are a valuable tool in art instruction, too, said Erica Manville, who teaches visual arts to the kindergarten through seventh-grade students at Brayton. Manville showed how she uses the iPads for the children to look up instruction on their own (like the koi fish lesson), creates QR codes for the children to scan to get directly to websites without typing in long URLs and even dreams up a unique "selfie" project.

"We thought we'd take the selfie to a new level," she said, demonstrating how she had the students take their pictures on the iPads, then trace over printouts of their pictures on clear plastic so the pictures could be transported to different places created in an iPad art program.

"They could take themselves somewhere outside of Berkshire County," she said. "They used their imaginations."

After the presentation, Swoap said Williams College is dedicated to finding the funding to keep the program going. The teachers have the same goal, too, now that they have seen how the tablets can be used.

"Mobile devices are easy to use. They're engaging. I've been able to adapt a lot of paper and pencil assignments," Candiloro said. "We want this program to continue to grow."

Tags: Brayton School,   Greylock School,   technology,   Williams College,   

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