Sixth graders use iBooks in the classroom

Published 11:32 pm Wednesday, March 5, 2008

MONTEREY — At first glance, the sixth graders in Annette Smith’s class at Monterey High School could be like any other group of preteens, text messaging or surfing the Internet on identical Apple iBooks.

But at second glance, the group is actually doing schoolwork, preparing a slideshow presentation about their vocabulary words.

The computers were given to the school through a program initiated by former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, in which one school in every school district was chosen to receive computers for a group of students.

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Monterey High was the school in Concordia Parish that best fit the criteria for the program.

The teachers of those students also received projectors and technical training.

“I can make a vocabulary assignment, and the students use online dictionaries and thesauruses that are so much better than the ones I have in my classroom,” Smith said.

The goal of using the technology in the classroom is to incorporate all of the learning the students will do.

“The students are right now working on a vocabulary assignment, and in the process they’re learning how to make a presentation,” Smith said.

Likewise, the science teacher can make an assignment and judge it for content, and then the English teacher can turn around and judge that same assignment for grammar, Principal Neeva Sibley said.

But for the students in Julia Avery’s class, using the computers is more than about learning.

“They make school fun,” Winston Woodward said.

Two rows over, Karlee Woodruff agreed.

“They make writing your essays a lot more fun,” she said.

After a special meeting with parents Tuesday and the receipt of special backpacks in which to carry the computers, students will no be allowed to work on some computer assignments from home.

And that, Dylan Jones said, is exciting.

“I can’t wait to take them home,” he said.

The school has had the computers for approximately six weeks, and during that time students’ enthusiasm hasn’t dimmed, Avery said.

“Before we got them, the students would ask, ‘when will we get them?’ and now they ask, ‘can we work with the computers?’” Avery said.