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MMS pilots iPad restrictions for failed schoolwork
MONROE - The rollout of iPads at Monroe Middle School has had a few bumps, but overall, the first year of each student being issued a tablet computer has gone smoothly, according to MMS principal Lynne Wheeler.

"I think the idea was like, 'Oh my gosh, the kids won't get anything done,'" she said.

But, Wheeler said, students know what is expected of them, and the threat of losing the iPad if it is misused has dissuaded most middle-schoolers from abusing the privilege.

To enforce that, the middle school is trying a new policy of restricting out-of-school iPad privileges for students who fail a quiz or assignment.

Students who receive failing grades lose the opportunity to take their iPads home. Wheeler said this is enforced on a week-to-week basis; if a student fails a quiz or an assignment one week but passes the next, then the student gets the tablet back.

"This is basically a pilot. It's only our third week and we are already seeing a higher rate of completion," Wheeler said Friday, Feb. 21.

"If a student loses the iPad for a day or a week, that is very meaningful to the students," she said.

If an iPad is taken away from a student, responsibility falls upon the student to do the extra work to accomplish homework, according to MMS iPad policy. Teachers will provide paper copies of assignments, or students can access the Internet through other devices to complete homework.

Overall, Wheeler said students have been far more engaged in classrooms with the iPad rollout, and the use of iPad technology gives teachers a better idea of who is struggling and how to help. For example, Wheeler observed a teacher posing a critical-thinking question to her students and had them compose their comments on the iPads. The teacher could see who had not commented and then help those students before moving on to the next subject.

"I would never say there are no issues and parents don't have questions," she said. "But kids need to learn to be good digital citizens."