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Fair Street testing new Kuno tablets
Moises Perez demonstrates the Kuno tablet while waiting for the bus Monday afternoon at Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School. The school has been borrowing the Kuno tablets to see what benefits they may provide for other Gainesville schools. - photo by SAVANNAH KING

The third-grade students in Lindsay Brown’s class are busy playing games.

But they’re not running around the classroom. They’re not shouting or laughing.

The only sounds they’re making are the occasional "Yes!" or "Look what I did!’"

For the last five weeks, the class at Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School has been trying out a new device called a Kuno Tablet to see if it will be beneficial to teachers and students in the classroom.

So far, it seems as though it will be.

Janet Rebollar, a third-grade student, smiles as she watches a big green check mark fill the screen of her tablet.

She’s using a Kuno to play a game that helps her learn to multiply.

"I think it’s a good way to learn instead of writing and getting bored," Janet said. "It’s because it’s like you’re playing a game but actually you’re leaning stuff."

Keith Palmer, director of technology of Gainesville City Schools, said the device was specifically made with the classroom in mind so there isn’t any worry about whether students are using it as they should.

The students’ tablets are linked to their teachers, so any homework assignments or tests are automatically sent to their teacher’s tablet when it’s completed.

The tablets are similar to devices like the iPad. The biggest difference is the Android-powered Kuno can only do what the teacher tells it to. Any app, game, video, PowerPoint, or homework assignment is there because Brown put it there.

The tablets also contain all of the class text books, handouts and worksheets.

"We’re using a lot less paper," Brown said. "Anything I would normally have them do on a worksheet, I send out to their Kunos and they can just annotate over it."

Brown said the tablets have changed some things about the class. For one, she spends less time grading. But one of the biggest changes she’s noticed has been in attendance.

"They’re here all the time. We never have any absentees," Brown said. "They feel a sense of ownership for their Kuno because they each have their own one ... and they’re excited to get here every day. Excited to come in and get their Kuno and get started."

She uses the Kunos to teach all of the subjects but has noticed the greatest improvement in language arts skills.

She said she doesn’t know if the tablets are the sole reason for the improvement but it definitely helps the students get excited about reading.

"They are so much more motivated," Brown said. "I see a huge difference from the beginning of the year. They’re motivated. They’re excited. I’ve got some kids who they looked like they were half asleep all the time. And I’ll be doing the same skill but you just put it in an app or find a fun way and they love it."

The school is currently borrowing the Kunos but plans to purchase 600 to 700 more, one for each student in grades first through fifth, if the budget allows. If not, the school will purchase enough for select grades.

The new Fair Street School is currently being constructed and is expected to be completed by the fall making this the perfect time to look at how new technology can be used in the new school, Palmer said.

He said it’s just a matter of time before all students in every district have tablets like the Kuno in their classrooms.

"At one time nobody had books back in the medieval times," Palmer said. "Then when Guttenberg invented the printing press, all of a sudden everybody had books. We’re kind of in the same thing now. We’re in the middle of the technology revolution. It’s just a matter of time before every child has one of these."