Forget spiral-bound notebooks and number two pencils. Grand Island Senior High is replacing textbooks with iPads.
"There you go," was heard as teachers lined up to get their hands on a digital tool for the digital age, the Apple iPad. 165 teachers got theirs today, but some didn't wait.
Danielle Buhrman said, "I actually use an iPad already. I purchased it last year and use it all the time with kids so now I'm excited because I get to use two."
Buhrman's students Friday were fellow teachers learning to get the most out of tablet computers. One idea the math teacher shared is to create videos kids can use at home.
"And a lot of parents can't go home and help kids with pre-calc so it's nice, they can hear
my voice, see all my work," she said.
Other teachers like Trish Paul will be learning from their students.
"They'll need to help me. I'm sure they know way more than I do," she said with a laugh.
By January, about half of the students in a school with more than 2,000 kids will be using iPads, especially with science curriculum.
As director of 21st Century Learning, Josh McDowell believes iPads with video, audio, and content from the web can replace textbooks.
McDowell said the goals is to "really push us to do things differently and start to think outside the box in what direction education really needs to head."
"What we're doing instead is paying for access to digital resources which is significantly cheaper than buying a textbook and we're able to use additional funds we save to purchase iPads," added McDowell.
Tablet computer rookie Trish Paul caught on quickly.
"I love it. I'm super excited."
McDowell said he found teachers "playing" with the devices. Teachers are free to customize them, even take them home. If they want fancy cases, he explained they can have them, if they pay out of pocket.
The district will provide apps, which can automatically be installed on every iPad that teachers use.
McDowell said it's about giving teachers the tools they need to reach kids.
"Kids today in the 21st century learn differently than I did, than you did and we need to accommodate that. We need to make sure we are providing the most relevant and rigorous instruction we can and the way we're doing that for learners today is digital resources," he said.
Put another way, teachers say this is about helping every student succeed.
Danielle Buhrman said, "We only get them eight hours a day so it's nice to stretch that out, so they're learning 12, 13 hours a day."
Teachers are getting a three month head start before the kids use iPads at the school. Then the plan is to roll out the tablets to teachers at Grand Island middle schools.