Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Expands Project for Laptops in Classrooms Portable Computers Available to All in 22 of District Classes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Expands Project for Laptops in Classrooms Portable Computers Available to All in 22 of District Classes

Article excerpt

Byline: Shawna Sundin, Times-Union staff writer

FRUIT COVE -- Cunningham Creek Elementary School teacher Allen Anderson walked around his classroom yesterday, pointing out various equipment to his students -- five printers, a CD burner, a digital camera, a video camera and a cabinet full of laptop computers.

He explained to the roughly 50 third-graders he and a co-worker are teaching together in a special computer program this year how they'd soon be learning what all the buttons on the laptops do, what the various ports are for, and what the different lights mean.

It was a little different than the typical keep-your-voices-low and raise-your-hand instructions classes usually heard on the first day of school.

But then this is a different kind of class.

In addition to pencils, paper and folders, a laptop computer is at the top of these students' list of school supplies.

"You must treat these the same way you would treat a baby," Anderson said after telling the students they have to hold their laptop by the handle with both hands at all times. "You must take care of it, feed it, change its diaper and love it. It's more important than your homework, and your homework is very important."

The class, which officially is two classes but basically will function as one, is one of about 20 such classes in St. Johns County in which every student has a laptop and each class has other electronic equipment to use with the computers.

The school system started the program two years ago as part of its long-term strategic planning to increase technology use. The district used its money to buy laptops for 10 classes the first year, said Pat Horn, coordinator for instructional technology and the Internet for the school district.

A state grant paid to expand the program last year by adding six more classes and buying additional equipment. This year, 22 classes in all 14 of the county's elementary schools are part of the program, Horn said.

Anderson taught first-graders in the computer program the first year and most of them are in the joint third-grade class he's teaching this year with Jenny Harman. …

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