iPads now an integrated part of Saint Francis life
Posted August 28
The school year at Saint Francis has started with a bang. In the first week, 450 freshmen and their parents were welcomed into the community, students attended their first assembly, and countless practices were held after school. Furthermore, the Sobrato Family Learning Commons is abuzz with activity daily, and all 1,700 students have received their iPads.
The task of putting an iPad in the hands of all students fell to technology director Larry Steinke, iPad program manager Nigel Marrion and their team of 28 student volunteers, dubbed the iPad squad. Over the summer, to get the tablets ready for students, Mr. Marrion and his team unpacked all devices, labeled them with asset tags and configured and activated them. During two days of registration, all students attended an iPad orientation that explained proper use of the devices. Then Mr. Marrion’s team fanned out to help their peers register their iPads and access the school-provided apps.
Mr. Marrion credited his crew of students for helping make the registration system a smooth process.
“They were an enthusiastic group,” he said. “Some have used an iPad before, and some haven’t but they were keen on learning. All of them wanted to be involved to help others.”
Already in the first week, teachers have found many ways to incorporate the iPad in their lessons, asking students to make movies about themselves, do science labs or take quizzes to assess comprehension. Sophomores Rafael Soriano and Adriano Melo like that their backpacks are lighter and that their teachers have introduced them to many apps to help them learn.
“It’s so much easier to take notes and to share them now,” Rafael said.
Students and teachers have become very adept at using the iPads quickly, Mr. Marrion said.
“It’s already an integrated part of Saint Francis life,” he said.
A vital component of the iPad program is the school-wide reading of lol...OMG!, written by Saint Francis alum Matt Ivester. This book is an integral component of the school’s digital citizenship program and provides information about the unintended consequences of making the wrong decisions in an online world. In a few weeks, teachers will discuss the book in class and examine with their students the challenges of living online.
“This is our opportunity to take time out to listen to our students and to guide them in preserving their reputation and integrity on the Internet,” Principal Patricia Tennant said.
The launch of the iPad program also complements the opening of the Sobrato Family Learning Commons, where many students can be found using their iPads during their down time. The Haughey Family Student Center and the Cassin Family Library, with their wireless access throughout and flexible table and seating arrangements, are popular areas to do homework and socialize. Offices for student services are located on the first floor, and the library, more than twice as large as the previous facility, is on the second level. Both the student center and the library are big draws for students who occupy every available table during lunch and after school.
“I like how the tables are set up in the student center,” said sophomore Kathryn Fast. “You can talk down here and study upstairs.”
The iPad program is just one highlight of this exciting new school year. There will be many more rousing programs and events in the upcoming months for the Saint Francis community.