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Garden City pupils using iPods, apps in lessons

In Garden City, the Hemlock School recently introduced a new learning tool: iPods.

Since January, a group of 20 first-graders has been using iPods to review math, vocabulary and other subjects in an interactive way. The school currently has six iPods and uses a MacBook to upload educational applications, called apps, to the individual devices.

The high-tech effort was initiated by first-grade teacher Amy Sullivan and teaching aide Dara Perlow after they attended a technology conference last year hosted by Nassau BOCES.

"The iPods aren't used as a teaching tool - they're used to reinforce what kids learn," said Sullivan, who called iPods a modern-day equivalent to flash cards. "It's a fantastic way to motivate and engage children."

To buy the iPods, the two teachers secured a grant from the Paul Robert Eckna Foundation, a charity named for a Garden City resident who died in the 9/11 attacks. Rotating groups of students spend 20 minutes a day using one of 15 apps that were downloaded by teachers.

One popular app, Sullivan said, is called "Pop Math" and requires kids to match math equations with sums in order to pop a bubble. Another app, "I Can Read, Daddy," sounds out vocabulary words to help kids practice speaking skills.

Other apps help kids to recite U.S. presidents' names or follow along as stories are read.

"This is high-tech learning in a multi-sensory way," said Principal Audrey Bellovin.


I Love Math Day

Students in Lynbrook School District's three elementary schools - Marion Street, Waverly Park and West End - were encouraged to embrace mathematics with a first-time I Love Math Day coinciding with Valentine's Day last month.

The program consisted of various math stations that challenged third-graders to graph the results of a poll about their favorite breed of dog and to measure their own height and arm span, among other things.


New focus on wellnessGrace Day School, a K-8 private school, has launched a schoolwide fitness program called "Operation Wellness" that consists of daily health tips, periodic yoga workshops, and the distribution of reusable water bottles to deter the consumption of sugary beverages.

A recent kickoff event included a 15-minute aerobic rally for the entire student body; it will be repeated throughout the year in smaller sessions called "cardioblasts."


Fiscal responsibility

Teens in Plainedge High School's internship program recently explored the challenges of fiscal responsibility during a workshop that required them to manage mock household budgets and simulate buying cars and renting homes.

Representatives from about a half dozen local businesses - including Infiniti of Massapequa and Costco in Westbury - manned stations for students to visit and learn the costs of various products and services.

The event was coordinated by the Hicksville-based nonprofit Right Start Foundation.


Ryan's story

Valley Stream Central High School students recently received anti-bullying advice from John Halligan, a Vermont man whose 13-year-old son, Ryan, took his own life in 2003 after being harassed online. During the lecture Halligan urged Valley Stream teens to speak out when peers are teased.

"It's one thing to be bullied and humiliated in front of a few kids," said Halligan, but it's even worse, he noted, "when the humiliation is witnessed by a far larger, online audience."


Recycled art contest

Eleven Nassau County students were first-place winners in the Town of North Hempstead's 2009 Recycled Art Contest, which encouraged K-12 students to be environmental stewards by using recycled material in art. Seventy-five entries were submitted from nine school districts. Winners were:

Grades K-2: Thomas Bono of Searingtown School in Albertson; Grades 3-5: David Bals of John F. Kennedy School in Great Neck; Middle School: Shir Balila, Kamrynn Irani and Caroline Weinberg of Great Neck South Middle School; High School: Anonza Abrams, Simone Burks, Dayana Cham, Sandra Chan, Jord Lin Charles and Henry Guerara of Westbury High School.


Haiti efforts

Long Island schools continue to collect supplies and monetary donations to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

North Shore Middle School in Glen Head raised $2,000 for the Red Cross through a teacher-versus-teacher basketball game held by the Global Citizens Club, while Guggenheim School in Port Washington raised $1,300 by letting kids pay $1 each to wear hats to school.

In Garden City, the high school's student clubs raised $460 through bake sales to benefit the Red Cross, Doctors Without Boards and UNICEF, while elementary schools sent nonperishable food and medical supplies to the Christian Hand Foundation in Dix Hills.

In Suffolk County, South Huntington School District raised $11,000 for the Red Cross through change donations and the sale of bracelets.

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