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Roanoke County School Board's decision could grant computers to all middle school students

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ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - The Roanoke County public school system is looking to expand a program giving 8th graders access to computers. The Northside Middle School's principal said it's proven to increase interactive learning in classrooms.

It's all hands on; using computers to edit papers, create PowerPoints and conduct research in the classroom.

"Recently we've been doing a research project," said Amanda Waldron, an eight grade teacher at Northside Middle School. "Where students may have been limited to computer research before or bound to books in the library, now they're able to choose whatever topics they're interested in. They can just go on the internet and start doing some research."

Waldron told us having computers in the classroom allows for more interactive learning. And soon, all Roanoke County Middle School students may be hitting their computers instead of the books. The school board is hoping to expand an 8th grade computer pilot program that would give laptop computers to all middle school students.

"By providing one-on-one to our students this has been able to bridge the gap and be a level playing field for all students, and to be able to give a student an assignment and know they all have access to the same materials," said Principal Lori Wimbush.

District leaders said having computers in the classroom also cultivates interactive learning.

Instead of booking the computer lab for a class and hoping it's available, Waldron told us these laptops allow for more creativity for both students and teachers.

"Our options are endless," said Waldron. "I like to use a website called ‘No Red Ink' where they can practice their grammar skills."

Computer programs like Office 356 and Blackboard not only allow teachers to communicate with students inside the classroom, but also at home too.

"Now, they're able to collaborate people across from them across the globe," said Wimbush. "So, this has really helped our students with our 21st century skills."

If the board approves this program come April, nearly 3,000 computers would be needed and would cost the district up to half a million dollars.