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Published: Thursday, 6/12/2003

Students find answers to be close at hand

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The answers to one of the last science tests of the year at Arbor Hills Junior High School went straight to the class taught by Kendra Santoro.

Ms. Santoro sent Web sites to her students' Palm Pilots so they could search them as study aids for the test.

The subject was Australia and it included not only subjects in science, but also social studies.

According to Ms. Santoro, the students had been exhibiting the usual signs of the end of the school year with their interest flagging, but the introduction of the hand-held devices regained their interest.

She noted that their attention increased for the subject matter, not just how to operate their new resource.

The devices are among those bought by the Sylvania school system for use in some junior high school classes, with the idea that more may be obtained in the future.

Carol Youngs, the instructional technology director for the school system, said she wanted the program to begin with smaller, manageable groups to see how it worked.

She said junior high school students may be unfamiliar with the instruments, which are most often used as personal organizers, but that most of them have used hand-held game machines so they aren't intimidated.

“At that age, they know they can't break them and they're finding out that learning can be more fun with gizmos,” she said.

Ms. Youngs spent about $30,000 of a $41,000 state grant to buy 142 Palm Pilots and extra equipment for them, including keyboards that attach to the devices.

The keyboards allow the pupils to type reports and answer quizzes and send the results to the teacher.

Each junior high school has 30 Palm Pilots assigned to the classroom of one teacher who has been trained in using them in the classroom.

As pupils move through that class, they are handed out and then returned to the teacher at the end of the session.

Ms. Santoro said that among the capabilities of the system is for a teacher to give a quiz at the end of a week to get a quick idea of how the class is mastering a topic.

The devices are meant not only to be learning aids, but to introduce technology more and more into the school's curriculum, and get youngsters used to functioning in a hi-tech society.

The Maumee school district also uses Palm Pilots in some of its sixth-grade classes.

The district bought 50 devices, in use at Gateway Middle School.

The cost was budgeted in the district's technology budget this year.

The school board is considering allocating funding for more Palm Pilots.



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