Trail Ridge and Westview middle schools recognized for technology innovation

Westview Middle School eighth-graders in a recent English class completed a capitalization assignment by writing notes using an app on their iPads.

Students at the school also are using iPads for individualized grammar lessons, to access tutorials if they get answers wrong on math homework and to blog about projects.

"We're really working to use the devices to personalize learning," said Westview Principal Mark Spencer. "For teachers, it just can't be, I'll pull out this worksheet or do the next section of the textbook. Kids need to think and apply and create."

Both Westview and Trail Ridge Middle School recently were recognized as Apple Distinguished Schools for innovating with Apple products. The designation is for two years.

The two Longmont schools are among five recognized in Colorado, about 200 in the nation and about 300 total worldwide.

St. Vrain's partnership with Apple is part of its four-year technology learning plan. The plan, funded through a 2012 mill levy override, allocates $2.2 million a year for all students in sixth through 12th grades to have their own iPad minis.

All middle school students received iPads starting last fall, while about half of high school students got the devices this fall. The rest of the high schools will get iPads next fall.

In the fourth year, each elementary classroom will get a set of six iPads for students to share

"The one-to-one iPad program is a huge piece of this," said Trail Ridge Principal Eddie Cloke. "It's been a starting point for us."

To be recognized as Apple Distinguished Schools, Trail Ridge and Westview created digital books with information on how the school meets five criteria: visionary leadership, innovative learning and teaching, ongoing professional learning, compelling evidence of success, and a flexible learning environment.

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Seventh grader Abi Watson uses her iPad in Jason Helmus' science class at Westview Middle School on Wednesday morning. (Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer)