Guilford Co. middle schools getting tablets

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- All students at Guilford County middle schools are getting new tablets for classroom use.

Last year, the schools bought tablets with money they had won through a federal grant. But all 15,000 of those tablets were sent back to the manufacturer amid complaints of electrical malfunctions and hardware concerns.

Now, replacement tablets have arrived to some Guilford County middle schools and will arrive to more within the next few weeks.

Teachers say having tablets in the classroom provides more targeted learning and exercises for students.

"It really does open up a realm for personalized learning," said Ann Bencini, a math teacher at Northern Middle. "They can really self-direct based on what they need, what they've been having trouble with, what they've been having success with."

Bencini notes that the new tablets are much more durable than the ones the school had last year. She says the new ones have more protective cases, thicker glass that is less likely to crack and are overall more user friendly.

Students are excited about the possibilities tablets offer.

"I think it's better because we're not bored all the time," said Northern Middle sixth grader Mariah Headen. "We have something to actually talk about and look at. We wouldn't just be staring at white blank paper and our hand being tired all the time."

Right now, students at Northern Middle, some of the first to get the new tablets, are not allowed to take them home. Teachers say after about a month, once familiarity with the devices is improved, students will be able to take them home.

Each tablet costs $199. The federal grant provides $35 million in funding spread out over several years.