Establishing a Digital School Environment – Stanly County Schools
Matthew Barfield, Tech Facilitator and Laura Kerr, Principal (in the finals for NC Principal of the Year!)
WOW! These folks are from North Albemarle School and presented on their Horizon Project in which they have accomplished a 1:1 laptop program in their 4th and 5th grade classrooms. Each of the 100 students has a laptop assigned to them (although they do not take them home). The workshop began with a live video conversation via Skype with two of their teachers back at the school who spoke glowingly of teaching in a digitally-immersed environment. Cool! They reported several positive outcomes from the year and 1/2 they have been piloting the project. These included less teacher prep time to create meaningful lessons (not sure how that is accomplished, because I would think for the first while it would be the other way around), greater student engagement in content, enthusiasm, responsibility for their own learning, increased maturity level, and that they are more apt to do what you are requesting because they see a purpose in it. They also report greater time on task, and less discipline problems when the kids are using the laptops – makes sense!!
The 4th and 5th grade classrooms have undergone an entire makeover. The desks were removed to bring in tables so the kids could collaborate while working on their laptops, projectors are mounted in the ceilings, ACTIVboards (equivalent to our SMARTboards) have been mounted on the walls, laser printers have been installed, and a color printer is shared by the two grade levels. Online textbooks are being utilized, as well as online extension activities, virtual field trips, and webquests.
The very passionate principal, Laura Kerr, sees the laptops as “an accelerant to active learning”. She has designated every penny of her Title One budget (being a school of over 85% free and reduced lunch) to this initiative, stating that it is the way for the school to be moving! They are looking at implementing the project in the 3rd grade as well, next year, seeking funding from private foundations and area businesses (like banks). She invites local commissioners and area business people into the school to see the fantastic things they are doing, and how this movement will positively effect the future of the community; believing that if they can see what wonderful things the kids and teachers are doing, funding will follow.
Training on a daily basis is conducted by Matthew Barfield, the school’s ITF, and early training by Apple was conducted so the teachers would be able to teach the curriculum effectively through the Apple applications. The presenters estimated the cost of the project, including the staff development, at around $700 per student.
Further information can be found at North Albemarle School’s website under the Best Practices link!
We need to take a visit!
Photo: M with Laptop