By Julie Huss
DERRY — A local program continues to boost technology in the Derry School District.
The 21st Century Learning Community program awarded three grants to Derry school projects and programs, offering technology support for schools through programs and equipment not included in the school budget.
Every year, schools submit grant applications for technology ideas in the classroom. The 21st Century committee then chooses several ideas to fund through its grant program.
At last week's School Board meeting, 21st Century representatives Joel Olbricht and Gordon Graham said the grant money will help spark technology in the classroom.
The program started in 1991 with some great plans, Olbricht said.
"We feel our journey has been worthwhile and it continues," he said.
He said the nonprofit group wants to continue to support technology and creative thinking.
Three recipients of grant money this year gave presentations of where the money was used.
The first grant award for $4,407 went to Derry Village Elementary School to purchase four magnetic dry erase boards and video programs to help first-graders enhance their testing and assessment skills.
South Range Elementary School earned $4,967 for a white board to help students with skills on testing and assessments. The grant money will fund interactive devices for children to use as part of the program.
The third 21st Century grant — The Game Changer Grant of $23,395 — went to Gilbert H. Hood and West Running Brook for a collaborative effort in geography and world studies. The money will buy 40 iPads for student use.
All year, eighth-graders used the iPads to do map analysis, geography work and will offer opportunities a standard textbook can't, teachers said.
Students will have a "virtual" textbook and will also have a chance to create blogs and report on what they are learning.
"Textbooks are great," Gilbert H. Hood Assistant principal Joe Crawford said, "but the stuff these guys want to get into is a bit more."
Crawford said goals for next year's iPad use include doing more student libraries and programs.
He said students took great care of their technology in the classroom.
Graham said he was proud of what 21st Century Learning had done over the past two decades and credited schools' hard work bringing innovative technology into the classrooms.
"It's been a labor of love for us to be working in 21st Century," he said, "to bring to the district technology you couldn't fund out of the regular budget."
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