SAN ANTONIO - Jennifer Lankes' AP Biology class at Fox Tech High School is not your typical Biology class.
Instead of cracking textbooks, her students are using Kindle Fire e-readers.
The 22 students in one of Lankes' classes are part of a pilot program testing the interactive technology. District leaders want to know if the high-tech devices can help kids learn.
"Kids use this technology at home, so we want to bring this technology in the classroom. We just want to do it in a cost-effective way," said Marcos Zorola, assistant superintendent of accountability, technology and management information systems for SAISD.
Primarily designed for use in the Biology class, the students are encouraged to use the tablets and their pre-approved apps in other classes. And don't think that these students are abusing the technology.
"The internet has filtered access so we do have controls over what can be done with the unit," Zorola said. "They really use this as a tool to further their education. It's not so much that I can put Angry Birds on it, it's the whole Idea I can download software for test taking."
The students have only been using the Kindles for about a week now, but their teacher has already noticed a major difference between those who have them and those that don't.
"What I've seen is a better turn-out rate for homework and I've also seen an increase in test scores," Lankes said. "I want more Kindles. I want all of my kids to have Kindles next year."
At the end of the year, the district will use feedback from the kids and compare their progress to other classes not using tablets to determine the future of the program.
So far, the kids love using the tablets.
"I feel like we can relate to it because we are a generation that depends a lot on technology," said Jaclyn Munoz, a Fox Tech senior.
Other students like having one less textbook to lug around in their backpacks and said the device just makes learning more fun.
"It's pretty effective," said Pedro Contreras, a Fox Tech senior. "It catches your attention much more than just a book."
Jennifer Lankes said the tablets make less work for her because she doesn't have to print out teaching materials and can get quick access to the students homework online.
She hopes the district considers expanding the program to more students.
"We're bridging the gap between our way of education and their way of education," Lankes said. "The sooner we bridge that gap, the more successful they're going to be in the long run."
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