We are very proud to share that our district was once again featured by Apple in their official national newsroom on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. This follows our initial feature that was published in May. Read the article below that was published on Apple’s K-12 Education page and can also be found by Clicking Here.

The exterior of e building at Lewis Elementary School, with students walking across the grass.
Lewis Elementary School, one of eight Apple Distinguished Schools in Downey Unified.

Lewis Elementary School, United States

Discovering the full potential of iPad in the classroom

A teachers supporting a student who is working on an iPad.
A Lewis Elementary Teacher and Apple Learning Coach supporting a student.

Just southeast of Los Angeles in Downey, California, Lewis Elementary School serves 850 students. Lewis’ iPad deployment began with one device for every two students. That put iPad in every classroom, but it didn’t mean every teacher knew how to teach with them. And among those who did, there was a lack of consistency and continuity across the classrooms. So leadership took action.

“It was all about changing the mindset of the teachers,” says Instructional Technology Coach Leslie Neill. “We have these tools, they’re powerful — but they’re going to be paperweights if we can’t show their value in a classroom.”

School leaders began modeling use of iPad at every opportunity — mirroring screens with AirPlay on Apple TV, sharing files with AirDrop, and taking notes with Apple Pencil during meetings. To further inspire adoption and enhance fluency among educators, leadership turned to the free resources of Apple Professional Learning.

Apple Teacher tutorials get participants comfortable with iPad, Mac, and Apple software. And Apple Learning Coach trains educators and administrators to conduct one-on-one sessions with peers — they answer questions, provide feedback, and help others get the most out of their Apple devices.

Lewis’ educators now feel supported when taking risks, trying new things, and discovering innovative ways to use iPad in their classes. In doing so, they’re giving students new avenues to explore subjects they’re passionate about.

Students using VEX Robots, on a mat, with iPads next to them showcasing the robotic design.
Lewis Elementary students working on thier VEX Robots with the support of an iPad

“We’re inspiring, influencing, and empowering tomorrow’s adults. The endless possibilities of students with iPad in their hands is awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” says Neill.

Teacher and Lewis Tech Squad leader, Melissa Minahan, recently felt empowered to incorporate podcasting into her lessons, and it has energized her students. They research subjects in Safari, write scripts in Google Docs, and record audio in GarageBand, where they then edit, add music, and layer in sound effects to create a podcast. “It’s been really cool to see students demonstrate their learning in new and innovative ways that they wouldn’t have been able to do without iPad,” Minahan says.

In another example of empowerment, teacher Susan Fisher — with the help of Apple resources and support from her peers — has led the Lewis News Team to huge success, even though she didn’t have previous experience in broadcast production. Her students use iPad to research stories, record interviews, and write scripts. Then they edit and deliver with iMovie. “iPad is the only all-encompassing tool I can think of,” says Fisher. “You’ve got your research component, writing tools, creation tools. You’ve got a way to get your voice out there.”

Four elementary students working on an iPad.
Lewis News Team students filming a broadcast segment

Today, educators at Lewis are using iPad and Mac with confidence. They explore their curiosity and find continued inspiration in their classrooms. As a result, Lewis Elementary School has seen increased enrollment, attendance, and student engagement — and serves as an inspiration for other schools in the district.

Two students working together on an iPad.
Two Lewis elementary students collaborating on a project using an iPad.