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Libertyville schools look into hand held classroom
By Mick Zawislak | Daily Herald Staff

Libertyville District 70 plans to introduce iPod touches in some classrooms this fall as another way to enhance learning.


Courtesy Libertyville District 70

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Published: 6/29/2010 12:02 AM

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The next wave of teaching and learning skills in Libertyville Elementary District 70 will involve kid-friendly hand-held devices.

Two dozen staffers in the elementary district participated in a 15-hour class on the use of iPod touches, which are expected to be in classrooms this fall.

While the exact logistics are to be determined, the thought is to give teachers more flexibility while allowing students, in a sense, to take the classroom home.

"We're looking into how this could be a good teaching tool," said Jill Przybylski, a technology literacy coach for District 70, who taught the class.

Staff from each of the district's four elementary and one middle school attended the class, called "Learning on the Go."

It focused on what applications teachers could use to help students, ranging from auditory skills to personalizing reading or math programs.

Students, for example, can make flash cards and download them to their own iPod touches, which would allow access to the information any time.

"Basically taking the resources we have in the classroom or on a computer and putting it on a hand-held device," Przybylski said.

A teacher using digital authoring could convert a PowerPoint presentation to a form that could be used on the iPod touches, according to Przybylski.

Students also could record their reading lessons to hear where they stumble or otherwise are not as fluent as they need to be.

"It's almost like a self-monitoring device," she added.

"This is the way students are wired to learn and we are looking at every method to make learning more engaging and stimulating for our students and teaching more exciting for our staff," Superintendent Guy Schumacher said in a statement.

The idea is based on the iRead program operating for a few years in the Escondido Union School District in California. There, a group of teachers is using digital audio tools, including iPods and iTunes, to improve the reading process.

With the introduction of the iPod touch, many more applications are available to integrate voice recordings, allowing students to create a variety of reading-related projects, according to the iRead Website.

The iPod touches are used to provide more personalized learning in District 70's Title 1 summer school program, which just started.

The district has not determined how many iPod touches will be purchased and how they will be used. The devices cost about $200 each, or $5,000 to $6,000 to equip an entire classroom, not counting a mobile cart to carry and charge the devices.

"You have to think of it not as a new toy but is this an effective tool to teach my students with," Przybylski said. "Otherwise, it's spending money to spend money."