"To refresh her memory, Dervishaj pulled out her math notebook. But her class notes were not great: she had copied several sample problems but hadn’t written a clear explanation of how exponents work.
She didn’t need to. Dervishaj’s entire grade 7 math class has been outfitted with “smart pens” made by Livescribe, a start-up based in Oakland, Calif. The pens perform an interesting trick: when Dervishaj and her classmates write in their notebooks, the pen records audio of whatever is going on around it and links the audio to the handwritten words. If her written notes are inadequate, she can tap the pen on a sentence or word, and the pen plays what the teacher was saying at that precise point.
Dervishaj showed me how it works, flipping to her page of notes on exponents and tapping a set of numbers in the middle of the page. Out of a tiny speaker in the thick, cigar-shaped pen, I could hear her teacher, Brian Licata, explaining that precise problem. “It’s like having your own little personal teacher there, with you at all times,” Dervishaj said."
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