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LBUSD Pilots iPad Algebra App

The Long Beach Unified School District this week helped to launch a year-long pilot project allowing students to use the first-ever interactive algebra curriculum app for iPad.

The innovative effort began on the first day of school as California Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss, local school board members and the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt textbook publishing company introduced a class of eighth graders at Washington Middle School to their very own iPads.  The devices came with a digital textbook and custom app that the publishing company calls “the most sophisticated use of the iPad’s interactive technology in K-12 learning to date.”

Two classes at Washington, and two at Hudson K-8 school, will be among the select few to pilot the software.  In all, 400 students from Long Beach, Fresno, Riverside and San Francisco will participate in the one-year pilot, which will compare the students’ algebra performance with that of peers who use traditional textbooks.  Long Beach was the first to launch the pilot, marking yet another innovation for the school district that pioneered reforms such as school uniforms and many elements of standards-based, data-driven instruction.

Through Apple Inc.’s hand-held, mobile iPad device, students receive instant feedback on practice questions, write and save notes, receive guided instruction, access video lessons and more with the touch of a finger.  The app’s three-dimensional functionality combines instruction, ongoing support and intervention, allowing teachers and students to customize learning and meet individual needs.

“The nation and the world are watching what you’re doing here,” Secretary Reiss told the Washington students during a launch ceremony.  “I’m very pleased to welcome the first interactive algebra textbook to our schools.  Long Beach, Riverside, Fresno and San Francisco students will show the world that we can and must harness technology to maximize academic achievement.”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt developed the app, called HMH Fuse.  The company also covered the cost of the software and most of the iPads.

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HIGH TECH -- Washington Middle School students tried out their new iPads on the first day of school as part of a pilot program that uses a digital textbook to help teach algebra.  Students can record notes with voice memos, use the touch screen to handwrite or type and save notes, re-learn lessons through videos, and receive instant feedback on practice questions.