"The engagement factor is huge," said Hayes, a teacher at Ryan Elementary School in Lafayette.
This is part of a program called STREAM standing for Science, Technology, Reading and wRiting, Engineering, Art and Math. Ryan Elementary won a grant from a non-profit foundation called Impact on Education. Impact on Education is dedicated to supporting the Boulder Valley School District.
"Impact is very dedicated to helping all students have equal access to the opportunities," Fran Ryan, chief executive officer of Impact on Education, said.
Ryan says the program wants to close the digital divide and grant access to technology to all kids despite socio-economic status. She says the key to the STREAM Program is the professional development offered to teachers in addition to the purchases of iPads or Google Chrome tablets to be used in the classrooms.
"So, just handing a teacher an iPad to say go use as an instructional tool really is not fair to them," Ryan said. "They do really need to learn how to use in lesson planning."
Hayes says this is a huge help, especially for teachers who may not be comfortable with using the latest technology.
"The professional development piece was a huge piece because it really took some weight of our shoulders, because they were giving us this information we needed," Hayes said.
The STREAM program researches different apps to make sure that they are aligned with the curriculum of the BVSD. And, Ryan says, they want to help teachers find the apps that are the most effective in the classroom.
"It is very important. From the ease of the app, from how efficient they are," Ryan said. "There are many apps that may have good content on it that aligns with literacy and science, but they're difficult to use."
Principal Tobey Bassoff says the program is working.
"We were the only school in Boulder Valley School District that saw significant gains in reading," Bassoff said.
So far, Impact on Education has raised about $400,000 for the program. The district is expanding from Ryan Elementary to three schools including 38 classrooms.
"I hope it can expand because the success and the progress and the growth I've seen from students in here, students that don't have access to technology at home," Hayes said.
If the program is to expand even further across the district, Ryan says BVSD must find a way to fund the program from its own budget.
Bassoff says the help, which so far has been at no cost to the district, is invaluable.
"Unless we go out and get this support, it's not going to happen," Bassoff said.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)