Laptops work for middle school students

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LEWISTON — David Marshall, who oversees technology learning at the Lewiston Middle School, told the Lewiston School Committee Monday night there are a few students who don’t take care of the laptops they’re given.

“I have a dozen in my office with the screens smashed in,” Marshall said. Broken screens, the No. 1 problem, cost about $600 to repair, he said.

But, the vast majority of students take good care of the computers, Marshall said.

“Ninety-five percent of the kids handle it well,” he said.

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The laptops are serving students and teachers, and are enhancing learning, he said.

Marshall gave committee members a presentation showing how some students have turned what used to be “poster board” reports into imaginative multi-media reports.

One student made an autobiography of herself that used music, a snappy slide show and a multitude of pictures and graphics.

Another example was a report about the spider money. The boy’s report included music, comprehensive information, interesting and fun facts about the spider monkey that left school committee members smiling. Some students use the laptops to write standard reports, while others take initiative and present more in-depth work, Marshall said.

Many teachers incorporate lessons using the laptops every day. Others do so three times a week, he said, showing a few examples of teachers who take full advantage of the technology.

School committee member Paul Dumont asked whether students who damage laptops are responsible. Yes, Dumont said, if the damage could have been prevented. “They get the bill.”

Before laptops go home, parents must sign a form stating they are financially responsible if the laptops are damaged, and that damage could have been prevented.

About 50 percent of families sign the forms, which means only 50 percent of students take them home, he said.

— Bonnie Washuk

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