iMats Branches Out

Ellie Poling, Staff Writer

The iMats program is in its second year at Miramonte and the program has expanded to not only freshmen, but also junior and senior classes. This year, 180 students are taking home iPads daily.  Funding for the program comes from the Educational Foundation of Orinda (EFO) and Miramonte Parent’s Club.

Teachers are hopeful that the program will benefit students and enhance learning.

AP English teacher Amy Krochmal is excited for her seniors to be able to use the iPads as an organizational tool. Krochmal believes the device will enable students to customize their approach to learning, therefore furthering a sense of ownership of their experience. Besides organization, Krochmal hopes to use the iPads to do written work, make and share presentations, and work on other multimedia projects.

“I think, in the future, students are going to be asked to present things other than just a piece of paper,” Krochmal said.

The iPads offer new and different support for teachers as well. Things such as podcasts, videos, and free texts are available to teachers in order to help their students further understand the subject matter.

Biology teacher Manoa Koepp is taking a simpler approach to the new tool. Activities in class involving the internet are now accessible to each individual student, which Koepp hopes will make the subject more meaningful and memorable for the students.

“Sometimes new shiny tools help students remember the material, sometimes it’s a distraction.  Hopefully I set up the iPad curriculum well enough to benefit all of my students,” Koepp said.

Junior English teacher Franck Reyherme is planning to incorporate the iPads in almost all of his lessons this year. He believes the iPads, if used correctly, will make class more fun and engaging for his students. For his students, the main benefit of the iPads is the reading and writing process becoming quicker and more efficient.

“From a teacher’s perspective, the grading is easier because I no longer have to read terrible handwriting, or squeeze my comments into the margins,” Reyherme said.

Having nearly all classwork, homework, notes, and exams on the device also has made Reyherme’s class practically paperless. For both teachers and students, the ability to display handouts, edit drafts, and present lectures and projects on every individual iPad will decrease the need for paper in classrooms.

Another feature of the iPad is being able to poll the students’ opinions and get their results instantly.

“With the iPads, it’s much easier and quicker for me to collect useful information about my students during a lesson,” Reyherme said.

Because Reyherme is able to see how his students are absorbing the material, it makes it easier for him to find the applications on the iPad that work best for the students and find new ways to use them.

As for the students, some are ecstatic about the new way of learning and some are skeptical of the technology. Junior Emma Wilcox is amazed by what the iPad has offered so far this year. “It can be distracting at times, but the more I use it as a tool for school, the less distracting it gets,” Wilcox said.

Other students are finding the iPad hard to get used too. “I would rather read an actual book and take notes on paper. I just find it tedious to have to type on the iPad,” junior Kenneth Tasker said.

EFO and Parent’s Club have spent $144,000 to acquire roughly 360 iPads over the past two years.  The iPads not used for the iMats program are found in the library, and teachers can check them out to use in their classrooms.