Who Says Learning Can’t be Fun? Posted February 18, 2014 by Lisa Broida Bailey

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Pictured (left to right) are German teacher Susan Salembier, Spanish teacher Bunny Heim and French teacher Jordan Wells, who spearheaded the effort.

“Bonjour class. Please turn on your iPads.” While that would sound unusual in most classrooms, it has become the norm at Keith Valley Middle School in Horsham, Pennsylvania. Thanks to an Innovative Learning Grant awarded by the Hatboro-Horsham Educational Foundation (HHEF), the Foreign Language Department at Keith Valley has access to this technology in the classrooms. Pictured here (left to right) are German teacher Susan Salembier, Spanish teacher Bunny Heim and French teacher Jordan Wells, who spearheaded the effort. Through the grant, the trio was able to secure 15 mini iPads to integrate into the foreign language curriculum at the middle school.

“The program has been a huge success,” shared Ms. Wells, who uses them in her classroom every chance she gets. “Using the iPads to play interactive and educational games brings out the competitive spirit in the students in a positive way.” The team uses the iPads for test review, vocabulary, pronunciation, the creation of iMovies, flashcards, and more.

“The students are much more engaged when they are using the iPads than when I’m teaching alone,” shared Mrs. Heim. “As a result, the students are more confident in their use of the language and are more comfortable when speaking in front of the class.” Since there are only 15 iPads and about 25-30 children in each class, the teachers create learning stations and rotate the students during the 75-minute period. Sharing the technology between three classes means the students only get to use them a couple of times per week.

“We are hoping to obtain a continuation grant so we can purchase another 15 iPads,” added Mrs. Salembier. They already have the cart and chargers so the investment would be less than the initial one. “Using the iPads is so helpful because the children can hear different voices pronouncing the words and it lends us credibility as instructors.”

Ms. Wells has started to compare the test results of students who used the iPads and those who did not. Initial results show an increase in comprehension and better scores.

“On behalf of the HHEF, we are thrilled to hear stories like these,” explained Nancy DeLucia, Executive Director, HHEF. “Through the Innovative Learning Grants, our teachers can actually improve the learning experience for the students – just like with the iPads.”

One of the most interactive programs they use is called Magisto, which allows the students to create iMovies in the foreign language.

“It can be nerve-wracking for some students to stand in front of the class and have a conversation in another language,” explained Ms. Wells. “With the technology, they can record the conversations in advance and we use the projector to share with the class. It allows the students to feel more comfortable while building their confidence.”

Mrs. Salambier noted that the students always ask, “Are we using the iPads today?” with excitement. The team of teachers is grateful for the support of the HHEF in funding the technology as it allows them to teach more effectively … and most of all, the students have fun learning.

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