iPads put to the test in Lowcountry classroom

By Stefanie

WEST ASHLEY, (S. C.) WCIV - The classroom of the future is getting a test drive in Kristi Meeuwse's Kindergarten classroom at Drayton Hall Elementary. The group is leading the way in the Lowcountry by incorporating iPads in the classroom, and the impact is impossible to ignore.

"I'm teaching the common core state standards, oh and by the way, we have iPads," said Meeuwse.

The whole concept of teaching with iPads came from Meeuwse's curiosity of the new device in 2010.

"What's a girl got to do around here to get an iPad?" Meeuwse said she asked a Charleston County School District program director.

The question couldn't have had better timing. The district was already exploring how to get iPads into the classroom. By January 2011, thanks to an iPad pilot program, all of Meeuwse's students had their hands on the tablets.

"I knew there was a better way for our students to learn," Meeuwse said. "What we are doing is providing access to information for students-- access that in this time is critical."

For the past three years, 100 percent of Meeuwse's classes have gone on to the first grade reading above grade level. It's a first, Meeuwse said, for her 22-year teaching career.

"I do believe that these iPads are making a difference in their learning. The more we used them the more we learned that the students were engaged and excited about the learning," she said.

"When I read a book on my iPad first I tap 'read to me' then I tap 'read to myself' then I try to read the words," 6-year-old student Hope Sires said. "It's really fun and you get to do lots of apps and it teaches you what to do sometimes and tells you what to do."

Meeuwse insists that her kids are content-oriented, not iPad-oriented, in that they don't have iPad play time, but rather, the iPads help students make their own choices to how they learn best.

"I am educating 5- and 6-year-olds today for jobs that do not even exist yet in the future," Meeuwse said. "I'm educating them for problems that we don't even know are problems yet, so the best thing that I can teach them is how to solve problems and how to work with others."

Meeuwse was honored this spring by Apple as an Apple Distinguished Educator. She is one of only 87 teachers with this distinction in the country.