photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Time
CHANDLER, Ariz. — Amy Furman, a seventh-grade English teacher here, roams among 31 students sitting at their desks or in clumps on the floor. They’re studying Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” — but not in any traditional way.Spend first, find out the stuff you bought doesn't work later!
In this technology-centric classroom, students are bent over laptops, some blogging or building Facebook pages from the perspective of Shakespeare’s characters. One student compiles a song list from the Internet, picking a tune by the rapper Kanye West to express the emotions of Shakespeare’s lovelorn Silvius.
The class, and the Kyrene School District as a whole, offer what some see as a utopian vision of education’s future. Classrooms are decked out with laptops, big interactive screens and software that drills students on every basic subject. Under a ballot initiative approved in 2005, the district has invested roughly $33 million in such technologies.
The digital push here aims to go far beyond gadgets to transform the very nature of the classroom, turning the teacher into a guide instead of a lecturer, wandering among students who learn at their own pace on Internet-connected devices.
“This is such a dynamic class,” Ms. Furman says of her 21st-century classroom. “I really hope it works.”
Hope and enthusiasm are soaring here. But not test scores.
Since 2005, scores in reading and math have stagnated in Kyrene, even as statewide scores have risen.
In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores
By MATT RICHTEL
Published: September 3, 2011
My district, one year after the crash (or was it two? time flies--) bought SmartBoards for every single classroom in the district still remaining SmartBoard-free after the first go-round of SmartBoard acquisition.
Seriously. Those were the actual words our administrators and then-school board members used. SmartBoard equity.
There were kids in classrooms with SmartBoards, and there were other kids in other classrooms without SmartBoards. Not fair!
Hence: SmartBoard equity. Taxpayers had to buy SmartBoards for all the classrooms so all the kids could have SmartBoards all the time.
We've got high school kids who can't do long division (I tutored one such student this summer), but no worries. Our district has achieved SmartBoard equity, and that's what counts.
I realize I've told the SmartBoard equity story before.
I will probably tell it again, because I can't get over it. Where tales of SmartBoard equity are concerned, once is not enough.
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