Auburn kindergartners get iPads

AUBURN — City schools are rolling out iPads to half of the kindergarten students this week.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Washburn Elementary School kindergarten student Nicole Agousso shows off the Apple iPad she was given in class Wednesday afternoon. For a video of the first day with iPads at Washburn, visit

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Nevaeh Warner, a kindergartner at Washburn Elementary School in Auburn, uses a numbers program on the Apple iPad she received Wednesday afternoon.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Sophia Sansoucy checks out her portrait on an Apple iPad in her kindergarten class at Washburn Elementary School in Auburn on Wednesday.

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Sophia Sansoucy shows off her portrait on a new Apple iPad in her kindergarten class at Washburn Elementary School in Auburn on Wednesday.

At Washburn Elementary School, Jessica Prue's class got their tablet computers Wednesday.

“The iPads, they are very special and we're very, very, very lucky that we get to use them this year, because you are some of the only kindergartners anywhere that get to try them out at school,” Prue said.

Confident that the iPads will help close learning gaps among kindergarten students, the Auburn School Committee voted in April to give every kindergartner an iPad 2 this year. Despite opposition from some taxpayers, half of the kindergarten students are getting them this week and next, the other half in mid-November.

The staggered rollout is designed to generate data, by comparing how students learn with and without iPads. Officials hope the data will attract grant money to pay for iPads next year and the years after that, they said. The $240,000 for iPads this year came from last year's school budget.

Before the 5-year-olds in Prue's class got to use the computers Wednesday, she went over the rules.

“How do you think we should hold it? Should I hold it like this?” she asked, dangling a machine with her fingers.

“No!” her students said.

Everyone must use two hands to hold an iPad, Prue said.

Other rules: Use "walking feet" when carrying an iPad; always use the iPad while it is in the middle of your desk; never leave your iPad on the floor and walk away.

"Is it a good idea to have any snacks or drinks near an iPad?" the teacher asked.

No, said a boy named Brandon. “It could explode.”

It won't explode, Prue said, but snacks and drinks could ruin the machines. “We need to have clean hands when using iPads. We don't want sticky stuff all over the iPads.”

Prue passed around her iPad and each child practiced holding it with their fingers on the start button, thumbs on the top.

The teacher next handed out tablets to the students, whose pictures were taken with their iPads. Their pictures would be their desktops so they could easily identify their machines, K-6 technology coach Carol Miller said.

As Miller and Prue helped students learn about their iPads, other students explored number and word games, listened to stories and played with pictures. One boy played a game in which he counted aloud with the iPad the number of balloons, then the number of cars, on his screen. He matched the correct totals on the bottom.

Prue said she would use the iPads for literacy and math, to help students who are at different levels. “I have one student who is reading. Some are learning how to write their name.”

She'll use applications to create an individual lesson for each child. “The one who doesn't know letters and names, we'll focus on that," she said. "The one who is reading, we can find apps to work with that.”

Prue said she would limit her students' iPad use to 20 minutes at a time. The tablets won't replace traditional kindergarten lessons, she said. “It's just another tool.” But a powerful one, she said.

“I had a few students who used them last year in my class," she said. "The learning they took away from using them was phenomenal. They went from knowing only a few letters to knowing almost all of them in just a matter of weeks. I really think they're going to make a huge difference.”

The iPads won't go home with students until policies are developed, all kindergarten students have used them in class and all parents have met with educators about them.

It could be next spring before they go home, Superintendent Katy Grondin said Wednesday.

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



Steve  Dosh's picture

Auburn kindergartners get iPads

. . Nice article ?  noon - ish hst ?
Jealousy , sour grapes , name calling , veiled threats and weirdo revenge are all negative emotions and un helpful . What if the kids read your posts , grandma and grandpa ? Even their parents ( your children ) can read these negatory [ sic. ] posts on their Blackberries ® and iPhones ® 
To learn how to use the iPad ® best , we suggest Apple - iTunes University - Learn anything , anywhere , anytime
iTunes U gives you free access to some of the world's best thinking — lectures from MIT , labs from Stanford , films from the MOMA , and m o r e . .... e v e r y b o d y . All you need is iTunes ® and a connection even on a Dell ®
/s, The Mac User community @ ? noon hst • { not necessarily an endorsement }

Randall Pond's picture

Auburn kindergartners get iPads

This Clearly Shows me the Stupidity of Glen Aho. I think it's time we asked him to leave office.

Auburn Residents Do Not want this, and Mr. City Manger, if you're not going to listen to your constituents , It's time to Vacate your position and let a person, WHO WILL, Listen to what the citizens want.

Lisa Garey's picture

I find it ironic, Mr. Pond,

I find it ironic, Mr. Pond, that you are accusing Glenn Aho of being stupid when you clearly have no idea how the City of Auburn runs. The city budget and the school budget are separate, and the iPads were recommended and approved by the School Board and Superintendent Morrill. Also, the citizens of Auburn voted in support of the proposed school budget. It would serve you well to become informed before you make insulting comments about others, as wrongly doing so damages your credibility.

Randall Pond's picture

Auburn kindergartners get iPads

Say What you Want about Mr. Aho. He Needs to Go! He's Not doing the City any Favors.

Lisa Garey's picture

What *specifically* has he

What *specifically* has he done that you are so upset about?

John Cote's picture

forget the ipads

forget the ipads seem at the meeting the other night aho stated that the school dept dosen't pay the workmans comp insurance they need to get their head on stright heck if you was to walk up to a graduate or a teacher and asked them a simple question like what is 30% of 150 they would blurt out 5? 7? as? 2 then they wopuld say either i need a calculator or they don't have time to answer it
try it you'd be suprised
30% of 150 = 45

Jason Theriault's picture


I'm not against giving the kids ipads. My 4 year old can navigate, queue up videos and games, and even show me new games on the app store I should buy. They are incredible tools.

However, my problem is how this is being handled. This seems to be a publicity stunt. Just the fact they said "Prue said she would limit her students' iPad use to 20 minutes at a time". Sounds like a toy, and not a tool.

iPads can be incredible tools, but this doesn't sound though out.

Jason Theriault's picture

Example I just thought of:

Example of how this isn't thought out. Obviously, the cameras are enabled. Reminds me of this:;txt

School department spied on the kids through school issued laptops.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Technology is something all

Technology is something all students should become familiar with during their school years, but in my mind, they should first learn how to read, write, and do at least basic math before being handed over electronic gadgets. These children are 5 or 6 years old. By the time they're 10 years old, I-Pads will be relics of the electronic age, and by the time they are 18 or so, they will not have the capability of making change from a $20 bill on a $11.57 purchase without the cash register telling them the amount. Sad joke played on Auburn taxpayers.

Michael Hiscock's picture


We were all initially told that the school committee had grant money coming in to pay for these and now we are told that we, the tax payer, who are already overburdened with the way the city the budget, are paying for these out of last years bugdet. We watched them make so many cuts to make the school budget to make it work but suddenly have all this money. Poor idea. If your going to do a program like this, then start at the higher grades. What happens for 1st through 6th grade or whenever they get the computers back. Learn in K then go without until..... I can think of other places in the school district that the money could have gone, how about some extra ed techs to help these moldable mind how to use there heads to do the basics before we stick a computer in there hand. I was at a local store and a Jr from EL panicked when the register went down and this person had to get help from the lead cashier to figure the change for a $18.65 purchase when I handed her a $20. Technology needs to slow down and get our youngest student back to basics and let the teacher do there jobs instead of the technolgy doing it for them.

Lisa Garey's picture

From my understanding these

From my understanding these kids will never "go without." They will keep these iPads with them through their elementary careers, and each year new iPads will be purchased to be given to the incoming kindergartners. This was far from a one-time expense.

On the other hand, I as a teacher found your last sentence pretty insulting - especially since you were taught without technology and can't use the right "their." Technology as a tool and fiscal irresponsibility are two separate topics.

Michael Hiscock's picture

First of all, though I don't

First of all, though I don't feel I need to jusify my grammar on this, oooh, I used the wrong their, I WAS typing this comment at 5 a.m., at the end of a 12 hr shift. Secondly, you ARE wrong... The IPads stay in the Kindergarten and do NOT move up with them and new ones are NOT purchased each year (again, that would be at the taxpayers expence). I just got off the phone with the Auburn School Dept at City Hall and verified this. THirdly, I am sorry that you took my comment as an insult, but our kids need to learn the basics. I wasn't saying that teachers aren't doing their job, everyone is just getting away from the basics. I, for one, think these kids need time to learn with thier minds and only use tecnology as a backup for the first few years. When a teenager working in a store can't make change without the register telling them what the change should be, there is something wrong. There are better ways to spend the school budget money. Hire some aides. Wow, create some jobs(?), instead of cutting them (That would be an idea). This would give a lower teacher to child ratio and give the kids a better learning environment.

Lorrie Roberts's picture


I am fine with children starting to learn technology at a young age. I am, however, concerned about sending these Ipads home with the kids. Will this make them a target for getting robbed and put them in danger? With the slew of robberies the past few years, some residential, some commericial, I would hesitate to make our children easy targets. It's clear that folks will go to great length to get money for drugs. Just my concern.

Lorrie Roberts's picture


I am fine with children starting to learn technology at a young age. I am, however, concerned about sending these Ipads home with the kids. Will this make them a target for getting robbed and put them in danger? With the slew of robberies the past few years, some residential, some commericial, I would hesitate to make our children easy targets. It's clear that folks will go to great length to get money for drugs. Just my concern.

Peter Blake's picture

Wait and see the results

before you decide that this was another experiment gone too fast into the future as Auburn sometimes does. Results and the joy of learning cannot be measured by a simple price tag.

I urge all citizens to give it time, even if it takes two years or more. Remember each child learns at a different rate and some are ready when others are not... a large group picture is most objective.

Good Luck.

Joe Gray's picture

not just financial cost

Mr. Blake,
Though a great deal has been said regarding the financial cost to Auburn taxpayers for Ipads, many other objections have been raised as well.

First, there has been a lack of proof that the Ipads will even help with the goal of educating our children. If computers were the answer, it is said, all our recent high school graduates would be doing far better on the SAT's and other tests they are now taking. (See other story in this edition of the SJ). Many talk of younger folks not being able to make change without computer assistance. Does having an Ipad at such a young age help or hurt this issue? I know we have had high school kids work for us and they have struggled to make change, especially if someone hands them a bill and some change.

Also, the Ipad will make these young children targets for older kids or even adults who can't afford one and would like one. I hope Apple has put a GPS chip in there to monitor where the machines are at all times so they can be tracked if lost or stolen. But the worry is that the children could get hurt in one of these thefts.

Then we have the argument that electronics are making people less social and aware of others. Do these machines make people less able to cope socially? It used to be if you had a question you would ask your teacher or another student, now children are encouraged to look online for the answer. This is both good and bad. Is it teaching independence or isolation?

At the most recent city council meeting, Councilor Young, the mayor's representative to the school committee, made mention of Ipads next year. He stated he isn't sure where the funding will come for the Ipads for two grades next year. So, it seems we will be buying these for all kindergartners and first graders next year.

Bernice Fraser's picture

not just financial

They won't have to learn to spell, because of spell check, don't have to worry about grammar, that will be taken care of also, don't worry about math the calculator will do it. This is the future? Where children just push a letter or number and their answer shows up? They have no idea of the concept behind what the idea was to get to this answer. How many of you write on your computer and don't really care what your spelling looks like just push spell check it will do it? 20 years ago I complained to my child's teacher because his spelling was so bad, her response was "He does'nt have to know how to spell, just use a computer and it has a spell check". I find it so sad . He is a college graduate has a wonderful job, works with computers all day, can do very high math equasions with his calculator, but cannot add a simple column, or write a letter without the aid of a computer. Let's hope that the manufactures of batteries don't stop production, then all these kids will have lost an education.


Giving 5 year old kids IPADS is STUPID there goes 1100.00 out the winowv per student.!!!!!!!!!!


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...