Rethinking Computers in the Classroom

Obama wants more PCs for kids, and Harvey Milk Academy is one school doing just that. But a 21st-century, computer-focused curriculum is the real challenge
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Three fourth-graders sit around a computer in one corner of a classroom at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, a school of 220 students in San Francisco. One 9-year-old boy dons headphones to take his turn with the machine, reading passages from a virtual storybook as an animated panda cavorts on the screen. When he stumbles over words, voice-recognition software from IBM cues him to give it another try. After all the kids finish, the computer gives teachers a report on the students' progress, down to the letter combinations that throw them most often.

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