Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Aim of new state program is to create "smart schools"

For years, teachers have handed out word-search worksheets to kids.

Students hand them in, teachers correct them one-by-one and return the assignments to children days later, when errors can finally be reviewed.

But in Leann Moody’s class for struggling readers at Dixon Middle School in Provo, students perform word searches on iPads. They race against a timer, flicking their fingers to choose letters and earn points. When they make spelling errors, the app on their iPad immediately tells them so, then urges them to try again.

Dixon has more than 70 iPads, but the school is about to get hundreds more — one for each student — as part of a new state program. Dixon is one of three Utah schools that have been selected to receive $3 million worth of technology, training and support to become a "smart school" over the next three years. North Sevier High and Gunnison Valley Elementary will also get iPads for each student, along with more desktop computers, a technology infrastructure, audio systems, teacher training, Apple TVs and high-definition TVs for classrooms.

The schools were chosen from among 49 statewide that applied for the technology as part of a program passed into law earlier this year. Salt Lake Tribune