“Every kid now has [his or her] own dictionary, calculator, graphing calculator, [and] connection to the internet,” he says.
Turcotte and other teachers say the devices enthuse students, giving them the opportunity to practice multiplication using animated games, listen to books on iTunes, or record their own reading voices.
“These are the kids who hated reading, but now there are all these things you can do on that iPod Touch,” said Turcotte, who heads a language arts class for struggling fourth-graders. “Suddenly, they feel like readers.”
Students also learn at a comfortable pace, she said. Now, they can go back and practice a word or a math problem they’ve missed, minus the embarrassment.
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For their part, third- and fourth-graders mostly praise the goofy multiplication games, which have students play tic-tac-toe or combat aliens.
Engel says books become more exciting with the iPod touch. Students often research settings of books on the internet or listen to book recordings.
“There are all these sound effects,” Engel said. “It makes you want to keep on reading and to know what happens next.”
As budget cuts continue to loom, public perception has become an issue for schools dealing with dozens of flashy digital tools. But Superintendent Jeff Rose defended the move to expand Canby’s iPod program, saying the money comes from grants and rebate dollars that cannot be used for teacher salaries.