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St. Gabriel's Catholic School brings iPads to the classroom

A generous donation is allowing St. Gabriel's Catholic School to put iPads in the hands of elementary school students. Both teachers and students agree, the technology is changing the learning process, for the better.

AUSTIN -- Saint Gabriel's Catholic School fifth-grader Roberta Gonzalez can't imagine life without her iPad.

You would have this heavy backpack full of your books with your agenda that was all a little messed up, and you'd have to try to find your book, explained the 11-year-old.

Now, her homework,notes, and schedule are neatly organized in her iPad.

Under a pilot program,all fourth and fifth graders get their own iPads, and kindergarten through third graders use iPads in the classroom.

It's not about, you know, throwing away a paper and pencil. It's not about, you know, giving up on conversations in classroom and group work, said St. Gabriel's Head of SchoolSteve Balak. It's an additional tool for the children to be leaders. That's our goal, to raise world ready leaders.

Eleven-year-old Miko Ospovat is quickly becoming one of those leaders. The fifth grader is already a pro at presentations.

We're not only knowing how to use paper, but we're also knowing how to use technology, Mike said.

Educators say the real advantage of the iPads is it's not one size fits all learning. It allows each student to concentrate on certain areas where they need more work, under the guidance of their teachers.Plus,it'sa valuable teaching tool.

Teaching something like phonics can be rather boring since it's so auditory, and you're really using your ears a lot. This allows me to introduce a visual, said St. Gabriel's language specialist Ellen Mika.

A new tool preparing students for the next step. In Miko and Roberta's case,that step's the laptops issued to St.Gabriel's sixth through eighth graders. The pair say they're ready now,thanks to their iPads.

Are you going to miss your iPads? KVUE reporter Ashley Goudeau asked.

Yes, replied Miko.

Definitely, added Roberta. I think I'm just going to buy one on my own because this is so helpful for me.

School administrators say even after just three months,they see better student performance. They plan to do a full review of the iPads' effectiveness next year.