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Corcoran Unified School District

Using iPads to Launch Anywhere, Anytime Learning Program:
6th Grade Students Corcoran California

by Rich Merlo, Superintendent
Corcoran Unified School District, Corcoran, California.

flag statesOur district has been committed to providing a one to one laptop-learning program for the past six years. Currently, laptops are provided in the classroom grades 6-12 in every English and Math class, and many Science and Social Science classrooms. The District vision is to provide a true anywhere, anytime laptop-learning program where students can take the learning devices home to extend their learning beyond the school day.

Part of the vision is becoming fulfilled through a partnership with our County Office of Education, which is providing a cellular Wimax signal throughout the whole community. In our first year of this project, we are providing over 300 Mifi routers to students and staff.

Our first steps in providing the 24-hour access to students, the 6th grade was targeted since it was a good starting point for moving the program through the upper grade levels, a strong collaborative already existed among 6th grade teachers, and 6th grade students seemed to have the most academic challenges. Conversations among District and school staff members led to a plan to use iPads in the pilot program.

Corcoran IPADOur Technology Coach began working with the eight 6th grade teachers this fall, providing staff development for the use of the iPad including logistical use to pedagogical application. The teachers developed a Google document with iPad apps appropriate to their content area standards. Teachers also met voluntarily on several occasions during their lunch periods in order to prepare for the launching thus developing lessons well ahead of the implementation.

Students and parents were required to attend a one evening orientation, sign a newly adopted Responsible Use Agreement, iPad Use Agreement, and pay a $50 fee or request a waiver in order to pick up their iPads. We also provided an Internet Awareness Night with overwhelming parent presence when we distributed the Mifi routers.

We are in our sixth week of the initiative and the results have been much more positive than our expectations. Attendance is up, behavior problems are decreased, student engagement is higher than expected, and academic effort and work is almost 100%! Teacher enthusiasm and energy is very high. They are giving testimonies of student emails from home at all hours of the evening. In short, we are off to a good start.

We have noticed immediate advantages with the use of the iPad including immediate access to the Internet and various applications (no down or wait time), the physical interactivity with the screen, high reliability and, of course, the use at home.

Our local television station provides a snapshot of the initiative. Click here to see it!

Rich Merlo is in his seventh year as Superintendent of Corcoran Unified School District. Rich has also emphasized using technology as a powerful teaching and learning tool as a high school principal, administrator and teacher (15 years in the classroom). Rich earned degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Education at Stanford University along with a Masters in Educational Administration at Fresno Pacific University.

Corcoran Unified has approximately 3260 students, 90% low income, 85% Latino and 40% English Learners.