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An iPad At Every Desk

Lucy Ohlsen

An iPad for every child. That's reality at some Eugene 4J schools this year.

It's faster. Their fingers don't get sore. It's fun. The fifth graders at Awbrey Park Elementary love using iPads at school.

"It's helping a lot. It's easier than using computers."

Abby Strand is the class "DOJO" - meaning she's won the most points for being on task and a good student. She says some kids have trouble staying focused with iPads around.

"Not for me. For other kids in the class it's a challenge. But not for me. I just get on it and do what I'm told to do."

Strand and her classmate just finished reading an article called "Tree-erific". Now they use their iPads to type what they learned. They hit "send" to their teacher when they are done.

IPads have been at Awbrey Park elementary for 3 years now. It's part of a pilot project to see how new technology can help schools with growing class sizes and diverse sets of students.

"We're building the dream. The dream is really to have a personal learning device in every student's hand."

Kim Ketterer is 4J's instructional technology coordinator. She's helped organize the project that's put a device in 1500 kids' hands.

Students say iPads make learning more fun. In their "reading nook", they can scan a Q-reader square to listen to book reviews from their fellow students. Things like weekly spelling tests can be done whenever a student feels ready.

4J got $7 million from the May school bond measure to update technology. Ketterer says soon the pilot projects will be expanded so the district's 16,000 kids have equal access to technology. 

There are still a lot of things to figure out before that happens. A community group is helping decide what tools fit best where. Ketterer is still working with teachers on *how to teach thirty kids with personal screens in front of them.

At Awbrey Park, Abby starts to type a sentence about the Baobab trees she just read about. But, she says she likes to have paper in her desk, too.

"I think everybody should own a pencil. It's pretty important."