One enduring scholastic tradition is giving the teacher an apple on the first day of school. In the 21st century, giving the teacher an Apple has new meaning.

During professional development meetings, Central States Conference superintendent Judith Mason excitedly gave out one of the greatest tools to grace the educational setting—an Apple iPad 4 with Retina display. The result has been transformational for my classroom in our use of technology. The iPad not only increases the availability of information and resources but also increases student attentiveness and interest.

Teachers spend countless hours planning and obtaining resources to engage and capture the interest of their budding scholars. Innovation is a key factor as teachers are forced to compete with television, video games, smartphones and personal gaming systems. When I introduced the iPad as another tool for learning, my students were ecstatic. We put it to use immediately.

As an example, we were discussing the materials that make up earth’s layers when a student asked, “Why do worms come above ground after it rains?” We used the iPad for on-the-spot research into this fascinating question, discovering that it remains a mystery among scientists. Each student created his or her own hypothesis. They were engaged and excited about their theories. By using the iPad we were able to infuse more critical thinking into the lesson. And a seemingly complex concept became fun and exciting.

As I researched the many iPad apps, I discovered one to assist struggling readers. Reading can be tedious and overwhelming for some students, but using the iPad can make reading enjoyable. My struggling reader has finally entered the exciting world of reading and become confident and enthusiastic about it. My own heart filled with joy when this student smiled and said, “I read with the iPad, and it was so fun!”

The organization and fluidity of our classroom has also increased as we’ve used the iPad as a multitasking tool. It provides numerous benefits and opportunities for children, no matter what their grade level. The iPad assists greatly in navigating a multigrade setting. We discover, analyze, compare, define and synthesize a large quantity of information. In seconds, I can assign 1st graders a math game online, using our Go Math THINKcentral website, even as 2nd graders are discovering new things in their books for the current Pathways theme. Meanwhile, 3rd graders are watching a real life application about the science lesson as 4th graders are taking a test. When the timer sounds students shuffle to their respective desks for the next lesson.

Although I enjoy apples from students on the first day of school, my Apple iPad benefits our entire classroom throughout the school year, enriching my teaching and the learning experiences of my students.

News writer Brittany Wimberly teaches grades 1-4 at the V. Lindsay SDA School in Kansas City, Kansas.