SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A half-hour after they got their assignment, several of Katie Gregg’s second-graders still were at their desks, headphones plugged into their iPads, reading along with “The Princess and the Frog” and answering questions about the story on a worksheet.
But those who were finished were not waiting for their peers.
Sam found a spot against the wall and used his iPad to record himself reading the fairy tale aloud. Brock chose a different story from his iPad and was answering third-grade-level questions on reading comprehension. Another classmate was finding words from a set of seven letters on an iPad app called Chicktionary Coop.Meanwhile, their teacher and groups of three students at a time were engaged in some low-tech word identification with paper flash cards.
Within two years, every K-2 classroom in the Sioux Falls School District will look like Gregg’s room at R.F. Pettigrew Elementary. Each student will be assigned a $499 iPad for school use, while those in grades 3-12 get $279 Google Chromebooks, at a total initial cost of $7.3 million. It’s known as a 1:1 initiative.
The school district’s announcement had some residents bristling at the cost of the devices, which will be paid for by local property taxes. Expected to last four years before they are replaced, the technology will cost close to $2 million for each year they are used; the district will spend about as much on the wireless devices in the coming years as they’ll spend on textbooks.