California — Before, during and even between classes at Hillbrook School this fall, seventh-graders have been spotted on the Los Gatos, Calif., campus, sometimes burbling Spanish or Mandarin phrases into the glowing screen in their hands, other times staring into it like a looking glass.
iPads — the Apple of almost every adolescent’s eye — are being provided to students at several Bay Area public and private schools this year, including Hillbrook, which claims to be the only K-8 school in America using tablet computers in class and sending them home. This has led to a lot of 12-year-olds swanning around the wooded hillside campus, talking to their iPads.
Summoning up a virtual keyboard recently, Sophie Greene quickly typed a note to herself in iCal, a calendar program, then played back an audio file in which she was speaking Spanish. “We record a conversation, e-mail it to our teacher, Senorita Kelly,” she explained, “then she critiques the lesson in Spanish and sends that back to us.”