Shauna Kretschmerís second-grade students at Stella Mayfield Elementary School in Elgin are engrossed in learning on their iPads, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Wildhorse Foundation. (TRISH YERGES photo)
Wildhorse grant buys Elgin second-graders devices
ELGIN — Shauna Kretschmer was hoping that some new iPads would prove beneficial for her students.
She hasn’t been disappointed.
A $10,000 grant from the Wildhorse Foundation provided 23 second-grade students in Kretschmer’s class at Stella Mayfield in Elgin with their own iPads for math and reading.
Principal Dianne Greif applied for and won the grant for Kretschmer’s class, and the kids had the iPads in their hands at the beginning of the school year.
“I’m very excited to get them,” Kretschmer said. “Each child has his or her own iPad and uses it all day. Our main focus with the iPads is to improve our math scores, but we also use them for reading.”
The grant paid for the 23 iPads with covers and some educational applications for use in the classroom.
“Elgin High School Principal Wayne Herron and Stella Mayfield Principal Dianne Greif both came into the classroom to see how it was working for us, and it’s been great,” Kretschmer said. “The kids are really quiet when using their iPads. They want to learn this way, and they remain engaged better in the classroom.”
The iPads have a large variety of educational applications. In Kretschmer’s class, she uses apps for assessment, comprehension, vocabulary, fluency and word skill practice. She also has an app for learning Spanish.
The reading app allows students to listen to an audio reading of a non-fiction e-book. Using headphones, the student listens and follows along with the words being read. Each word is highlighted as it’s being read, and if the student does not understand what the word means, the app allows for words to be defined.
Taking story comprehension tests are easy on the iPads, and Kretschmer uses her iPad to log in and track the student’s testing data. Kretschmer’s iPad works in conjunction with her computer and smart board.
“Of course, the students still hold and read hard copy books in class,” Kretschmer said. “That hasn’t changed.”
The iPads are very useful in teaching mathematics and it makes learning fun, Kretschmer said.
“The students use the iPads to learn how to count money, tell time and do problem solving,” she said. “They use the iPads all day, every day, but with breaks now and then.”
Kretschmer said she taught the children how to care for their iPads, and about “digital citizenship,” which includes keeping their password secret for security purposes. The kids were also instructed about not talking to strangers or engaging in any kind of digital bullying.
It is Kretschmer’s hope that next year the third-grade students will also receive iPads for their classroom instruction. She has seen the progress her students are making so far and hopes to see this learning tool extended progressively to older students to keep the academic momentum going.