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Back to school, iPad style
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MONROE - School may still be out for the summer for students, but teachers at Monroe Middle School are back and rolling out iPad training.

MMS teachers started the iPad training last week, Monroe Middle School Principal Lynne Wheeler told the Monroe School Board Monday, Aug. 13. She added iPads will be distributed to sixth-graders at the end of September.

"If we want this to be successful, we had to get the iPads to the staff members to get them up to speed," Wheeler said. "The middle school is a lot like a guinea pig. I think this is the touch point for the district to move to a global learning community."

In June, the school board approved spending up to $150,000 to purchase 180 tablet computers to issue to all incoming sixth-graders to use for the year. Viewed as a pilot, the district is considering purchasing iPads for students in other grade levels if the sixth-grade program is deemed successful.

Middle school teachers had a mini iPad training last week. Wheeler said the school wants teachers to explore and find various ways to use the iPads as a teaching tool before a training for teachers, support staff and some high school teachers Aug. 30.

"It's one thing to put tools in teachers' hands and it's another thing to make sure they are using it appropriately as a learning tool," she said.

The middle school has a draft of a handbook for students. Teachers and students are required to sign an iPad agreement. There will be staff development time and training devoted to the iPad initiative throughout the year. There also will be an orientation and training given to students and three sessions available for parents.

In addition to training from Apple, the district is planning on using teachers who are advanced with iPads to train other staff members. The middle school is also planning on surveying students on the iPad plan by the end of the school year.

Wiring and access points for the school to switch to wireless internet access were in place in June, according to Monroe Business Manager Ron Olson. There is on-site work this week to finalize and complete the wireless network.