Red Canyon taps into new technology
EDWARDS – Gone are the days when scratching pencils were the only sound in a room full of students taking a test.
At Red Canyon High School, that scribbling has given way to industrious tapping, the thwap, thwap, thwap of students typing out answers on iPads.
The school recently bought 36 iPads for classroom use, becoming the first school in the county to invest in the latest Apple technology.
The touch-screen devices have changed the way students learn at this alternative high school where teens come in search of academic redemption.
Teachers here see the iPads as just one more way to motivate kids. Some students see it as a symbol of the school’s faith in them.
“For me, I think it’s a privilege we have to use the iPads,” senior Brenda Saucedo said. “We’re showing the community out there we’re not a bad school. We’re getting rewards back for the good things that we’re doing.”
Principal Wade Hill said the school spent about $18,000 on the iPads. While some people might see that as an extravagance, he said the devices are actually cheaper than buying regular computers. While a complete computer can cost about $1,800, the iPads were about $500 each, he said.
Hill wanted to invest in the iPads so he could alleviate some pressure on the computer labs. The school’s project-based learning emphasis and monthly tests required by the Closing the Achievement Gap initiative demand frequent trips to the lab. And Hill said the 12 computers at each campus in Edwards and Eagle couldn’t keep up.
“Sixty kids trying to get at 12 computers to get their projects done was very hectic,” he said.
Red Canyon High School caters to students who were not finding success in a traditional setting, Hill said. Some are teen moms; others reformed high school dropouts or students who simply failed to find their academic rhythm in a traditional school.
“These kids need to be engaged and excited about what they’re learning,” Hill said. “The iPads are just another way of engaging kids in content.”
A young man with ornate tattoos on his forearm busily types on an iPad during drug chemistry class on a recent Wednesday. His name is Fabian Archuleta and he’s taking a test on how drugs affect the brain.
The 18-year-old senior came to Red Canyon to escape his many “enemies” at Battle Mountain High School. He has found a friend in Red Canyon; here his grades have skyrocketed to As and Bs, up from the Ds and Fs that plagued his middle school career.
Today, Archuleta pauses to think before typing in each answer on the iPad.
“I just like the iPads because they keep more students focused,” he said. “Instead of going to the computer lab, where they get distracted by music and all that, they can stay in class and concentrate more.”
When he finishes his test, he e-mails it to science teacher Christina Gosselin, who can then access them through her iPhone.
Gosselin said the iPads eliminate a lot of paper waste because teachers can share files with students through the DropBox app.
“It’s just less paper,” she said. “I’m not making as many copies and killing as many trees.”
Having students e-mail their assignments from the iPad also helps her stay organized. She can simply e-mail a test back to the student with typed feedback.
“Now I can look at it and grade it anywhere,” she said. “The papers don’t have to be in front of me. They’re on my phone. I get color pictures, everything, and then I don’t have to worry about reading their handwriting.”
In general, teachers at Red Canyon see a lot of potential for iPads. Gosselin used an app that navigates a model of the brain. Other teachers have bought digital books.
“I think the potential for all the applications that are coming for it are pretty neat,” Hill said.
Some students say the iPads offer another chance to prove themselves. Saucedo said she appreciates the chance to use one because she can’t afford one of her own.
When Archuleta first heard iPads were coming to the school, he was concerned about them getting stolen.
“I thought, ‘They’re going to get jacked by some of the students,’ he said. “So far so good. It’s just pretty cool how the students are respecting them.”
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.