In a fifth grade classroom at Clifty Creek Elementary, a public school in Columbus, it looks like students are playing a game. They walk up to the white board, touch a number, and the white board highlights the number. But they are not playing a game. They are learning math.
It is part of a new effort to incorporate technology into the curriculum. Over the summer, the school installed new projectors with interactive white boards and ordered iPads and laptops called netbooks for the students.
“They’re very engaged in what the teachers are doing. And it’s a wonderful atmosphere in the school,” Clifty Creek Principal Cynthia Frost says. “It’s the first week and they’re already, when you walk into the classroom, they don’t even know you’re there because they’re so focused on what’s going on in class.”
She says students retain information better when they enjoy learning.
“Research has shown that they’re going to be more than 400 percent more engaged,” she says. “And we want everything that they’re learning to go into their long-term memory and not just short term memory.”
Test scores have gone up in two Bartholomew County magnet schools that have increased the use of technology in the classroom. Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation Technology Coordinator Eva Cagwin says the district expects similar results at Clifty Creek.
“We have not had a building with iPads in the way this building has iPads, so we expect engagement to be higher on those devices than with the netbooks and we are looking forward to those results,” she says.
Frost says Clifty Creek is a good place to test the new strategy because it’s a neighborhood school with a diverse population. Less than half of the school’s students passed the statewide standardized I-STEP exam last year, compared to the state average of 71 percent.