Sunday, September 12, 2010

Will an Apple a Day Keep the "F's" Away?

By Rhoda Wahl – English/Lang. Arts

Gone are the days when students bring apples for their teachers. At Exeter-Milligan Junior High and High School, the students are getting the Apples - - as in computers. The 2010-11 school year began with full implementation of the One-to-One laptop program, in which each student in grades 7-12 has an Apple laptop for use at school and home. What was once the seed of an idea is now a reality that is taking root in every area of the curriculum. The real question, however, is: “Will an Apple a day keep the “F’s” away?

As an English and Language Arts teacher, I am always looking for ways to encourage students to write more and more often. The attraction of writing digitally is already showing positive results. Students can compose, revise, edit, illustrate, save and submit their writing in less time than it takes to create handwritten text. Student engagement is at an all time high, and time-on-task has also improved. They are always more eager to write digitally, and writing more often improves the quality in every case.

Digital revision and editing is also a snap. The word processing software automatically locates and underlines spelling and grammar errors. Comments, suggestions, and questions can also be inserted without changing the original document. A speech function allows students to highlight their writing and listen to a computer voice read it aloud. Drop boxes enable both students and teachers to pass documents back and forth digitally, thus saving money on paper and ink.

As the year progresses, time and experience will determine the success of this new program. In the meantime, we’ll put the old home remedy - An Apple a Day – to the test. Check back in May 2011 for an update.
Brittni Kotas and Lana Kennedy

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