Halfway through 1st year, St. Vrain technology upgrades praised

About 60 Westview Middle School seventh-graders took their seats at the start of a combined language arts class and logged in to a class set of Chromebooks to find a warm-up activity.

They chose an emotion, then wrote a few sentences designed to "show, not tell." Once they were done, they pasted their work onto a virtual blackboard, where they could read the efforts of their classmates. A group discussion followed, with students sharing favorites.

"Incorporating word choice and emotion in writing is really important stuff," teacher Karen Clancy-Cribby told the students. "It's going to make the reader want to read what you're writing."

The St. Vrain Valley School District is a little more than halfway through its first year of a four-year technology upgrade. The learning technology plan, funded through a 2012 mill levy override, allocates $2.2 million a year for all students in sixth through 12th grades to have their own iPad minis over the next three school years.

In the fourth year, each elementary classroom will get a set of six iPads for students to share. The plan also includes updates to computer labs, distributing Chromebook "carts" to schools that will serve as mobile computer labs, and updates to classroom desktops.

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