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Clearwater High students give Kindles high marks
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Clearwater High School students use Kindles in the classroom.
CLEARWATER – Clearwater High’s switch from textbooks to Kindles last March is still going strong, said Principal Keith Mastorides. The “Kindle in every hand” agenda results from faculty, student and parent feedback.

A schoolwide survey shows that 21st century students need and want technology in their learning environment.

“We have seen a positive increase in test scores and class grades when a greater emphasis is placed on the use of technology,” Mastorides said.

The Kindle has gotten some students almost excited to do their homework, according to Samantha Frank, a senior

“It really has motivated me to do my homework,” Frank said. “Even though I only have it for one year, I’m glad to have it then not at all; it’s amazing.”

The ability to access the Internet for homework helps make the transition easier and jumping in to this new medium of learning and teaching. Social studies teacher, Kathy Biddle, has not yet gotten her textbook transferred to the Kindle, but still finds it useful in her classes.

“We’re still using textbooks in my class, but the Kindle has definitely been a great addition to what we do in class. If there’s a website that I want everyone to see, we all see it together on the Kindle,” Biddle said.

The Kindle also caters to students with challenges, like those with vision or hearing impairments. Larger fonts are available for easier reading, and a text-to-audio translator is an option as well.

Since the switch, there is a “higher level of thinking” in the classroom, according to Mastorides.

“Students love their technology,” he said.

The new tool is lighter than carrying a separate book for each class and is a strong resource tool, according to students.

“Do I miss breaking my back with textbooks? No,” said Bennie Niles, a senior.

Students don’t seem to miss learning with textbooks at all. Top reasons: The Kindle is lighter, more accessible and it’s a better and faster research tool.

“It makes learning way more convenient; there’s no comparison between the Kindle and textbooks. It’s my entire locker in one,” senior Matt Jonson said.

Although the students have had the Kindles for almost a year, there have been few glitches, according to Assistant Principal John Frank. The only issue really noticed was that if a cell phone was next to the device, it sometimes made the Kindle screen jump and “act a little crazy,” Frank said.

“It really has been a huge success. There were some students that didn’t want them, but they saw everyone else using them and they eventually came around. We let the students use them during lunch, so they download music and are really using them constantly, which makes it easier for them to do their homework on them later,“ Frank said.

Wanting to integrate technology into the classroom isn’t a new idea. In 2003, the Enhancing Education Through Technology grant gave about 200 Manatee County students laptops to use for the year.

Although Clearwater High is the only school with Kindles, the idea may start becoming more popular.

“I get several e-mails every day inquiring about the program,” Mastorides said.
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