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Creating with computers

School-issued netbooks used in the classroom and at home have given students at Davis Magnet School the chance to make book 'trailers' and more.

February 18, 2011|By Britney Barnes, britney.barnes@latimes.com
  • Gavin Lattimer, 10, watches Lilli Rask, 9, sign in on a laptop to watch her portion of a book trailer project at Davis Magnet School on Thursday. The students read a book and then shot and edited a short movie trailer based on the book with their school-issued netbook computers.
Gavin Lattimer, 10, watches Lilli Rask, 9, sign in on a… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Editor's note: This corrects the grade level of the students who received netbooks at Davis, Sonora, Paularino and Killybrook elementary schools.

COSTA MESA — Gathered in the multipurpose room at the end of a recent school day, students in Liz Sawyer's fourth- and fifth-grade combo class awaited the red-carpet premiere of book trailers they had spent the last three months putting together.

When the time was right, the students exited the room and came back in on a red paper "carpet" as their books were announced to cheers from a handful of parents and other students.

"It's been really fun because we can do whatever we want," said fifth-grader Kayla Brockman, 10.

Sawyer's students at Davis Magnet School were the first to create a trailer, similar to a movie preview, for books — a project that wouldn't have been feasible until this year when about 600 students districtwide were given netbooks, or smaller laptops, to use as their own for the school year.

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The Newport-Mesa Unified School District gave fifth- and sixth-grade students at Davis, Sonora, Paularino and Killybrook elementary schools, and seventh-grade science students at Costa Mesa Middle School the netbooks after winning a $400,000 Enhancing Education Through Technology grant, said Jenith Mishne, the district's director of educational technology.

She said she also applied this month for an additional grant for about 200 netbooks to expand the program to College Park Elementary School.

The federal grant program was established in 2001 through the No Child Left Behind Act to improve academics by improving schools' technology, according to the state Department of Education.

Mishne, who applied for the grant in 2008, said giving the students laptops helps prepare them for the 21st century workforce.

The students become better-equipped to use technology, navigate the Internet and research online, she said.

"There's so many things it does," she said.

The book trailers were just one project that was made possible with the computers.

The students saw the whole process through, from reading the book and discussing it, to writing a trailer, acting it out, directing and shooting the video themselves.

Although the students worked in groups, each one got to edit the footage together, making their own trailer with voiceovers, text and music.

"They've been so excited about the project," Sawyer said. "They've been working on it at home."

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