Piedmont students to receive more technology
by Laura Gaddy
lbjohnson@annistonstar.com
Aug 19, 2013 | 3489 views |  0 comments | 60 60 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Piedmont sixth-grade teacher Magan Glover helps Michael Milton with his new laptop on the first day of school at Piedmont Middle School on Monday. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
Piedmont sixth-grade teacher Magan Glover helps Michael Milton with his new laptop on the first day of school at Piedmont Middle School on Monday. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)
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PIEDMONT – Candace Mobley’s first-grade students in Piedmont don’t know it yet, but in about two weeks they’ll each be handed a miniature tablet computer to use in class.

The iPad Minis they’ll receive are thinner and smaller than regular iPads, but they have the same capability. Mobley said her students will use the devices to help them learn at their own pace.

“Now we have a lot more tools in our tool box,” Mobley said, her students lined up behind her in their classroom on the first day of school. “There is no limit.”

Using a $100,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Piedmont’s schools will distribute more technology to students in kindergarten through third grade this year, expanding a technology initiative that has given take-home laptops to each student in grades 4 through 12 since 2010.

Each kindergarten class will receive five MacBook laptops and five iPods. All first-graders will receive iPad Minis, and their teachers will have access to 50 MacBooks, which will be available for students.

Second-grade teachers will also have 50 MacBooks, and they will receive about 50 iPad Minis to use in class. Piedmont’s third-graders are each getting MacBooks, which will be issued to each student for classroom use.

Students aren’t allowed to take the devices home until they reach the fourth grade, however.

Students have quickly become accustomed to the technology since Piedmont launched the program, teachers say.

“I don’t know how we can not have it,” said Julie Needham, a third-grade teacher. “It’s just the way they learn now.”

Students in grades four through 12, meanwhile, received new MacBook Airs on Monday. Those compact laptop computers are replacing older laptops the system bought when it began the technology program.

Teachers said students were looking forward to getting their new laptops Monday.

“That was all the buzz in the eighth grade,” said Stephanie Steward, a middle school teacher.

Fourth- through 12-graders also are getting more control over how they use their devices this year. For the first time, students will have the ability to download apps and software to their computers.

Piedmont City Schools Superintendent Matt Akin developed the technology plan. He said giving students technology and more control about how they use it is about more than giving students high-end devices.

He said the goal is to give students tools to learn at their own pace.

“If we keep doing it the same old way it’s impossible for the kids to meet the objectives,” Akin said. “I think this year will truly set the foundation in Piedmont for the gains we make in the next five years.”

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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