Tristen Jones clutches her Samsung Galaxy tablet while engaging 7th graders in her language arts class at Glacier Point middle school. Jones is one of 30 teachers in the district using a tablet to teach lessons on her smart board. She explained, "I can use it to randomly select students and keep track of their responses so that's nice for parents to see at home their behavior and participation in class."
Next year Central Unified will provide tablets to 900 teachers and staffers to gear up for the fall of 2015, when all 15,000 students from kindergarten to high school will receive tablets they can take home.
Central Unified Superintendent Mike Berg said the project will bridge an opportunity gap. "30 to 40% of our families don't have access to internet or if they do have internet access they might not have the wherewithal to pay for the service or have a computer to run the internet."
Eventually those heavy textbooks the kids take home will be replaced by a tablet. Jones said, "I'm definitely proud of our district because instead of just creating digital textbooks we're working with an innovative team to create interactive adaptive lessons."
A federal grant will reimburse 81% of the $2 million cost for Central Unified's technology upgrade. Berg added, "The student and parent of the student will have access to things not only like their curriculum, but to their homework profile, their attendance profile and grading profile, their testing and assessment data."
This generation learns much differently than ours. Berg explained, "When you see our students, our own children interacting with one other and looking for information they don't run to the bookshelf at home anymore."
The tablets will help keep these young minds engaged.