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Bringing iPads to the classroom - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Bringing iPads to the classroom

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

This isn't the Apple store -- it's a Burlington High school social studies class where iPads line the desks.

"I love the fact that basically at any time in the classroom you can go on the Internet and find what we need," says Phineas Totten.

This year all 300 BHS freshman were given one of the handheld tablets as part of a new innovation initiative at the school.

"If I don't understand like what the teacher is asking or if I don't understand a word, I can go and look it up," says student Alex Willette.

The iPads are being used by teachers across the curriculum.

In Erika Lowe's ninth grade english classes she's using the devices to allow students to share their writing in real-time and help them with their reading.

"All of a sudden struggling readers are able to download books into iBooks and have it read aloud to them and one of the best ways to improve reading fluency is if someone is reading to you while you're following along," Lowe says.

Next door in Brennan Carney's social studies class the technology is allowing him to explore current events as they're happening- he's also able to ask instant poll questions with the kids to gage what they're thinking.

"I can ask real-time questions and see what their opinions are without the issue of highschoolers being like what did they think what does my friend think I'll raise my hand because of that," Carney says.

Teachers and students admit the new devices can create some unwanted distractions.Notes that were once passed by hand now get around online, and occassionally web-surfing can get off-topic. Teachers navigating students through the changes say there are lessons to learn from using the technology.

"The hope is that what we do in the classroom will also carry outside because they are on social media they are on Facebook and tumbler and Twitter and they aren't getting any guidelines and so I think a part of our responsibility as teachers here is to also teach them digital citizenship," Lowe says.

The iPads are part of a new Partnership between the Burlington and Winooski schools exploring innovations in education. 

The $379 iPads were paid for in large part with grant dollars, and district technology funds were also used.

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