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A, B, C, i: Maine kindergartners getting iPads
PORTLAND, MAINE (AP) - Kindergarten is supplementing crayons, finger paints and flashcards with iPads, a development that excites supporters but that detractors worry is wasted on pupils too young to appreciate the expense.
Next fall, nearly 300 kindergartners in the central Maine city of Auburn will become the latest batch of youngsters around the country to get iPad2 touchpad tablets to learn the basics about ABCs, 1-2-3s, drawing and even music.
The iPad is a powerful education tool with hundreds of teaching applications, said Superintendent Tom Morrill. With its touchpad screen, it’s simple to use and can bring learning to life with imagery and sounds, he said.
“It’s a revolution in education,” Morrill said.
The $200,000 that Morrill is proposing to spend on iPads _ which retail for around $500 _ might be better spent on some other school program, said Sue Millard of Auburn, who has children in the fourth grade and high school. She also questions whether kindergartners are old enough to appreciate the effort.
“I understand you have to keep up with technology, but I think a 5-year old is a little too young to understand,” she said.
Maine was the first state to equip students statewide with computers when it distributed Apple laptops to all seventh- and eighth-graders in 2002. The program has since expanded, with laptops parceled out to about 50 percent of high school students.
The state Department of Education says it believes Auburn is the first school district in Maine that will give iPads to kindergartners. The school board last week unanimously approved the plan to give all kindergarten students iPads next fall.
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment on how iPads are being used in schools, but dozens of school districts around the country have been giving iPads to students. Schools in Omaha, Neb.; Columbiana, Ohio; Huntington, W. Va.; Paducah, Ky.; Charleston, S.C.; and Scottsdale, Ariz., are among the places where kindergarten pupils are using them.
Angus King, the former Maine governor who launched the state’s laptop program, said the idea of iPads in kindergarten wows him. Anything that holds the attention of pupils will help in the learning process, he said.
“If your students are engaged, you can teach them anything,” King said. “If they’re bored and looking out the window, you can be Socrates and you’re not going to teach them anything. These devices are engaging.”
Not everyone is sold. Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University and the author of “Oversold and Underused: Computers in Schools,” said there’s no proof that computers bring learning benefits to pupils that young.
“There’s no evidence in research literature that giving iPads to 5-year-olds will improve their reading scores,” he said.
Peter Pizzolongo of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, based in Washington, said iPads can be an effective supplement to three-dimensional objects, whether they be books or building blocks.
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