Top of the World student Cosette Chesley does a Google search for the day's lesson on world empires in Sarah Wolsey's fifth-grade class Monday. (DON LEACH / February 25, 2013)

What might have taken 10 minutes to do with a hard copy textbook only took two minutes during Sarah Wolsey's Monday class at Top of the World Elementary School.

Wolsey began the morning talking about empires in her fifth-grade classroom while the 32 students tapped, scrolled and searched on iPads.

"Where have you heard the word emperor before?" Wolsey asked the class. "Use Google to find as many empires as you can."

Wolsey's class is one of four fifth-grade classes at Top of the World incorporating iPads into traditional instruction. Each class rotates the iPads, which were given to school as a donation.

She gave students five minutes to locate empires and list their findings on the machine's Notes app.

One boy grabbed a cordless keyboard to begin the assignment. Other students typed the screen to find the answers.

Student Cosette Chesley asked her partner, "Did we get China?"

Spencer Collins, also a student, wondered, "How do you copy and paste?"

Once time was up, students shut the iPads and said how many empires they found.

"Nineteen. Fourteen," they said. Wolsey then singled out student Sammer Tarazi's work.

"Sammer brilliantly copied and pasted [the list of empires]," Wolsey told the class.

The exercise was to become familiar with the number of empires throughout history. Wolsey then asked each student to select one empire from their list and discover one of its characteristics. Some students used Wikipedia. Others utilized Google. One student had a description of the British empire on the screen.

"This is the future," Wolsey said. "Any lesson can be enhanced using the technology. There are so many apps; there's always something you can do to incorporate technology into a lesson."

One app Wolsey's students were using was Edmodo. She asked students to vote whether empires rule or empires are evil. The app compiled the results, allowing students to see how classmates voted.

Wolsey began using the iPads in October. She said she spent several nights on the couch learning the tablet herself.

"They make learning fun and everyone is super excited to use them," Cosette said. They use them about three times a week, she added.

Classmate Sara Jacobs said, "[iPads] are a more visual way to learn."

Apps like Edmodo allow Wolsey to post assignments and students can interact with each other. The app can also be used on a desktop or laptop computer.

Wolsey said introducing students to the technology will only help them.

"This is the direction the workforce is going. People going to a board meeting will have tablets," she said. "I want to make them comfortable with it in the classroom."

bryce.alderton@latimes.com

Twitter: @AldertonBryce