learningsqOpening doors provides essential materials to promote early childhood literacy and academic achievement.  Our primary focus has been on books and backpacks, filled with school supplies, but we are also keenly aware that educational materials increasingly include technology.  Our commitment to exploring changing educational needs led Opening Doors to Kristi Livingston, Bradford School librarian, who suggested a donation of iPad Minis.  Having access to iPads would allow teachers to use the technology in their classrooms, enhancing instruction and providing groups of children with access to the digital library. In the spring of 2016, we had enough funds from our donors to provide an iPad cart with 20 iPad Minis to Bradford School.  By the end of the year, teachers reported children spent significantly more time reading independently and were reading a wider variety of materials. 

In the summer of 2016, we were able to raise funds to provide Springbrook with iPad Minis. This  donation was made possible through the support of Bruce and Jen MacLear, son and daughter-in-law of Mrs. Fred (Susie) MacLear.  On August 17, 2016, our annual “Books on the Beach” celebration was held at the Watch Hill home of Susie MacLear.  Bruce and Jen held a paddle raise to garner funds for the purchase of iPad Minis.  According to Julie White Gooding, “Their creativity and their guest’s generosity, supplemented by an anonymous donor, provided for the purchase of 60 iPads. 

The iPads have become an integral part of math and reading at Springbrook. They allow children to access digital reading materials via applications such as Accelerated Reader, Lexia, Epic, and an online digital library.  According to Anita Guarnieri, Reading Specialist at Springbrook School, “Students are loving using them.  They are able to choose what they read which motivates them to read more.” 

The teachers are using the iPads to provide a more individualized educational experience for all students at all academic levels.  Springbrook employs a Reading Workshop approach with individual student reading levels and matches students with appropriate reading materials.  Teachers use the iPads for classroom instruction in a variety of ways.  At times, they are used for group instruction on a common skill or for review of information using Quizlet.  They are often used for small groups, with strategically planned lessons, following the Workshop model.

Second grader Aubrey L. states, “They have Zearn and Chatterpix on them.  I’m more focused when I learn on the iPads.  I really like Epic because there are so many books to choose.  There are more books I like on Epic than in our classroom.  I get to choose the types of books I want to read.”   Fellow second grade Ryan Z. comments, “I really like Zearn, AR [Accelerated Reader] and Epic.  I like them because I read really hard chapter books and I can find them on Epic.  It’s improving our Reading Workshop because it gives more time for small groups and we can work on our own devices.”

It is our goal to support the literacy development of children in need in Westerly.  We are always looking to increase our donation of iPad Minis to the Westerly elementary schools.  Please consider donating to place iPads in the hands of more children and to contribute to their growth as learners.