During the week of September 15, Palmetto Senior High Assistant Principal Karina Menendez was very popular. It was she who handed out the bulk of the new HP tablets to ninth-graders. “In conjunction with the Miami-Dade County Public School District, we offered our students the opportunity to check-out tablets for their educational use. The response has been fantastic. The kids love it,” remarked Menendez.
Since the beginning of the year, the freshmen have been using tablets that stayed in the classroom; with the plan to roll out personal-issue devices once everyone got their feet wet. Principal Dr. Allison Harley explained, “Issuing technology to hundreds of students was a fun and challenging project for us. We wanted to ensure all the right software and textbooks were installed, and that our students and teachers were able to instantly use the tablets.” To begin, students will use the tablets to replace their World History textbook. “Those books tend to be some of the heaviest.”
The school district plans to supplant additional books as time goes on, with a goal of loading all textbooks onto the tablets. This will lighten the student’s backpacks considerably. Besides shedding weight, the tablets allow students to interact with the smart boards now installed in every classroom. It should be noted that parents and students had the opportunity to continue using traditional books. Less than one-percent chose that route.
Principal Harley commented, “The students are still a bit apprehensive because they are more used to using technology in a recreational way. They are also realizing they are responsible for the care of this equipment. This is a period of adjustment for everyone, but we see it leading great places.” Assistant Principal Menendez added, “Students can use the tablets to take notes in other classes, they should also be able to do some homework assignments outside of World History.”
Dr. Harley opined, “This will change the way schools teach and teachers are excited. Everything is at the fingertip of the child. Instead of deferring a question when the answer is outside the textbook, a teacher can now have everyone in the class utilize the Internet to research an answer right then and there. They don’t have to say ‘Find that answer at home’.”
The tablets are not free. They are leased for the school year. Cost is $20. Parents are offered insurance for $47.70 that provides unlimited protection, including theft. Parents can learn more at: http://digital.dadeschools.net/faqs.asp
As a parent of a Panther freshman, I jumped at the chance to arm my kid with this opportunity. Besides saving her back from 50-pounds of books, I know this will lead to a more interactive education.