Students welcome computer apps to further education

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SALT LAKE CITY — Flash cards and photocopies used to be a staple for elementary students learning to read. Now teachers have animated, digital options.

When East Midvale Elementary leaders won a $1,000 reward for reading progress, they chose to buy computer apps — applications that make reading and learning more like a game.

"Kids today come from a digital age," said principal Sally Sansom. "They respond to technology, they respond to media."

East Midvale takes part in KSL's Read Today Project Tutor program. Volunteers read one on one, twice each week with struggling readers. They have made such a dedicated effort, they won the Reader Reward, driven by Big O tires. Big O donates $1,000 every week to help a deserving school purchase something they need.

School leaders demonstrated how some of their new technology will help kids.

Kids today come from a digital age. They respond to technology, they respond to media.

–Sally Sansom

Teacher Sallie Warnecke and kindergartener Brady turned an Apple iPad into a smartboard, projected on the wall for all to see. Then, Brady aptly moved letters into spaces to form words. And with each successful word, music and cheers rang out on the computer.

Warnecke said the Reader Reward wasn't just about the money, but the opportunity to engage students.

"It makes it so much more relevant," she said. "Everything is animated and everything is digitized and that's what they love."

In fact, when the principal asked by show of hands how many students had used computer apps in their classrooms, nearly every hand shot up. When school leaders announced the local Big O Tires store had donated money for more apps, students cheered.

Big O representative Derek Edwards didn't expect such an enthusiastic response.

"It was pretty cool to see how excited the kids were and to make learning fun," Edwards said.


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