This school year Faleycia Moore is spending more time on her math homework than her teacher demands.
Her assignment: Spend a half-hour playing flashy math games on an iPod Touch.
She logs in two hours nightly.
The High Point Elementary fourth-grader is not the only one in her home enamored of her homework. "My mom and dad play with it all day. It's really easy," said Faleycia, 10.
Searching for a way to help students who scored below grade level on the math portion of the FCAT last year, the Clearwater school decided to experiment with the iPod Touch.
And took it a step further by sending them home with students.
"We're just trying something new," said technology teacher Robert Wirth. "Whatever we were doing wasn't working or wasn't getting their math up fast enough."
Using the iPod Touch and similar hand-held devices in classrooms has become popular around the country.
"Technology has changed the way we look at the classroom," said George Roy, assistant professor of education at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. "Teachers now have to think of their knowledge of math, their knowledge of how to teach and then their knowledge of technology and incorporate all three things together."
Other Pinellas schools are paying close attention to the pilot program at High Point, the only elementary school where students are using the iPod Touch. The experiment is part of a recent push by the school district to boost technology in schools. The district has spent millions on electronic blackboards, laptops for students and teachers, and other devices.
High Point spent $8,000 on its iPod Touch effort, using money normally devoted to paying teachers a reduced hourly wage for after-school teaching. The school bought 20 devices and a docking station connected to a sleek Apple iBook.
Students get a fully loaded iPod — so far teachers have handpicked 84 applications — on Monday and return the devices on Friday. Often, the batteries are burnt out by Tuesday morning. Wirth figures the students fall asleep with the iPods.
Parents agree to supervise their children and sign a log acknowledging at least a half-hour of play time. There is a waiting list of parents wanting to participate, said principal Susan Graham Taylor.
"The children sold it," she said. "They were so excited about it that they helped market the program."
High Point math teacher Kelly Glasgow, who has several of the students with iPods in her classes, said the program also helps with discipline. Students know that the devices will be taken away if they misbehave or underachieve.
Glasgow said she can already notice an improvement in her students' comprehension of multiplication tables. "I can't see anything but positive results coming from it," she said.
Taylor is a little more cautious and wants to see data first. She says she'll wait for the next round of scores from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, due this spring, before spending more money on iPods.
Still, Faleycia's mother has already decided that the iPod Touch works for her family. She's planning to buy one that the family can call its own.
"I sit there playing with it," said Nakia Moore, 29. "It's a great learning tool."
Luis Perez can be reached at (727) 892-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.