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RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Rapid City students aren’t allowed to tweet or post on Facebook at school, but teachers could soon encourage students to send “blasts” through a new reading program.

The Rapid City school board is considering implementing StudySync, a reading program from McGraw-Hill, the Rapid City Journal reported. StudySync offers a class-wide forum where students can send short, anonymous “blast” responses to reading prompts from their school-issued laptop.

The new reading program proposed for next fall also includes a digital license for readings and videos as well as a textbook with fiction, nonfiction and grammar exercises.

The blasts are shared with students in a particular section and teachers monitor posts for inappropriate comments, said Valerie Seales, Rapid City Area Schools’ director of teaching, learning and innovation.

Students respond to reading prompts in fewer than 280 characters and then rate each other’s blasts based on spelling, complete thoughts and “careful” language.

“It mirrors real-life communication,” said Robert Romano, founder and CEO of the StudySync.

Teachers can also play a moderating role by directing conversation and setting parameters, Seales said.

The city’s reading instructors chose StudySync over a comparable reading product from another publisher after a trial-run with each curriculum. Rapid City middle school students enjoyed their interactions through the blast forum, teachers said.

“Cross communication between multiple participants is a 21st century skill,” Seales said. “And to do that in a moderated setting, that’s very beneficial.”

If the board adopts StudySync, it’ll mark the first time the city’s schools have had a uniform reading curriculum.


Information from: Rapid City Journal,