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IF Teachers Use Tech-Boosting Grants In Classroom

iPads, iPods and Nooks are infiltrating lesson plans in Idaho Falls schools.

The classroom tech boost is thanks to earmarked money from State Superintendent Tom Luna’s “Students Come First” plan.

Ninth-graders in Jhanyce Acosta’s Spanish class teamed up to tell stories Friday afternoon. All eyes were fixated on an Apple tablet.

“They get to record themselves in Spanish so they can hear themselves, how they can pronounce a word,” said Acosta.

Acosta, an educator at Eagle Rock Junior High, is one of 55 in Idaho Falls School District 91 to win a competitive grant for up to $5,000 of technology in the classroom.

Acosta chose six iPads. They arrived in January and have been a big hit with students.

“It’s like, our generation, and we know how to use, like, electronic stuff, and so it helps a lot,” said ninth-grade student Michael Occionero.

“Immediately, kids are engaged because they’re a fun, new toy,” said Jenna Briggs, an instructional coach for District 91.

Briggs helps teachers make the most of the devices, using data to track methods that lead to improvement. She said a popular use of iPads and iPods is having students read aloud to them and then listen back.

“So, they’re able to decide what characteristics in their own reading make them a good reader,” said Briggs.

Some schools check out Nooks at the library, use educational games or have students text multiple-choice answers to prepare for a test.

With students starting to use the devices as early as elementary school, teachers also have the challenge of keeping things fresh.

“By the time they’re here, they’re like, ‘Give me more,’ you know. ‘We need more stuff cause we’ve done this before,'” said Acosta.

Acosta said more technology means more time planning every day, but she knows she’s preparing her students for the outside world.

The state Department of Education distributed $13 million across the state for classroom technology this year.

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