Third-graders at New Albany Primary School are beginning the school year with high-tech alternatives to notebooks and pencils.

CORRECTION: Because of a reporter's error, the print version of this story inadvertently said New Albany-Plain Local School District third-graders go to New Albany Intermediate School instead of New Albany Primary School.

Third-graders at New Albany Primary School are beginning the school year with high-tech alternatives to notebooks and pencils.

Every third-grader has been assigned his or her own iPad to use for class, adding to the district's expanding one-to-one technology initiative.

Last year, students in grades 4 to 6 were assigned iPads, said district spokesman Patrick Gallaway. This year, students in grades 3 to 9 received iPads, he said.

The move is one that builds on the district's plan to outfit students with their own iPads for learning.

By the 2022-23 school year, almost all students in the district -- those in grades 1 to 12 -- will be assigned an iPad, said director of technology Michael Voss.

The cost to complete that plan will be close to $1.3 million, and the iPads will cost close to $400,000 annually to maintain, he said.

The district has about 5,050 students, and about 50% of them have iPads assigned, Voss said.

Students in grades 5 to 9 are permitted to use the iPads at school and at home, but grades 3 and 4 are permitted to use the iPads only at school, according to a device-distribution plan Gallaway shared.

In a change from last school year, when third-graders used iPads from a cart shared among classrooms, personalized iPads for each student will allow them to conduct research more easily, said third-grade teacher Kryssie Pratt.

Also, when students used iPads or laptops from a cart and ended a project at the end of the school day, they had to find their specific iPad or laptop from the cart the next day to continue their work, said third-grade teacher Jenny Callahan.

Pratt said she views the iPads as tools that allow students to create.

"How can we enhance the learning and not just replace what we're already doing?" she asked.

Pratt said her students will incorporate iPads into their "genius hour" -- a one-hour period once per week in which the children research a topic of their choosing and create a product related to that topic.

Her students could use their iPads to create a digital product or to conduct research during "genius hour," she said.

As for the older grades, Sarah Hacker, a seventh-grade social-studies teacher, said iPads will allow her and her students to have interactive presentations.

Hacker said her seventh-graders already would have used iPads when they were sixth-graders.

"We're seeing the iPads as another tool for student engagement," she said.

Still, Hacker said, she doesn't anticipate teachers using the iPads every class period, or even every day.

New Albany Middle School principal Donna LeBeau said she has discussed with faculty members the idea of balance when using iPads in the classroom.

"Not all screen time is created equal," she said.

The screen time that is most harmful to students includes social media and video games, she said, two things students will not be able to access while on their school-issued iPads.

Students are able to email each other and staff members, but they can't email or receive emails from outside the district, LeBeau said.

They also are unable to load apps onto the iPads and must use what is already on the devices, she said.

Some classes by their nature will feature iPads in smaller ways.

Orchestra teachers, for example, will use an app to tune students' instruments, after which the iPads will be put away, LeBeau said. Physical-education instructors might track physical fitness on the iPad, she said.

"It's just another tool in our arsenal," she said.

Some students received special training to help their peers use iPads efficiently.

On Aug. 6 and 7 at the intermediate school, 15 students in grades 6 and 7 attended Eagle Genius Tech Camp, organized by the district's Apple educator, Gallaway said.

The students will work with faculty members in the intermediate and middle schools to help their peers with apps and settings on the iPads, Gallaway said. The students also should be able to provide teachers with support, he said.

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