For administrators at the Grand View Public Schools in rural Oklahoma, small size and challenging student demographics shouldn’t stand in the way of providing a world-class, technologically rich education.
The 500-student, pre-K–8 district, located 70 miles east of Tulsa, is also in the heart of Cherokee County, headquarters of the Cherokee Nation. The student body is 70 percent Native American and high poverty, with 81 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced price lunch, and nearly 40 percent of families living below the poverty line. Some 25 percent of students are English language learners.
“Despite our challenges, we take our responsibility to provide a 21st century education to our students very seriously,” says Cheryl Beaman, federal programs director for Grand View. “One of our recent initiatives was to use grant funding to implement a 1:1 computing environment for our sixth, seventh and eighth grades.”
Of course, providing the hardware is only part of the equation; effective technology use depends on quality content. “We needed to provide our teachers with tools that will help them adapt to our new 1:1 environment,” Beaman added, “and were looking for a company that provided content. That’s when we found Learning.com.”
Learning.com provides Web-based, standards-aligned content, tools and services, including STEM and digital literacy curriculum. Grand View began implementing the STEM curriculum content and assessment tools from Learning.com for the 2010-2011 school year. “Their Aha!Math and Aha!Science programs give teachers the ability to differentiate instruction, and the content works well on an interactive whiteboard for group lessons and activities,” says Beaman.
Even with great technology and content, however, Grand View students lacked the basic digital skills necessary to take full advantage of these tools. “But with Learning.com, we didn’t only get great digital content; they also provide a complete digital literacy curriculum. Students know games, music and entertainment uses for technology, but not work-related skills, like how to search the Internet effectively, how to stay safe online, how to make good decisions about what to post, or how to create a digital project from start to finish. Those skills are what they learn with the EasyTech curriculum.”
Grand View soon began using the EasyTech digital literacy curriculum in computer labs beginning in pre-K and continuing through fifth grade, and the district has already seen results. “We’ve noticed a huge difference in the fifth graders entering our 1:1 computing environment that begins in sixth grade,” says Beaman. “Now students have those digital skills, so teachers don’t have to show them how to use the computers, but can get right to the academic content.”
The content and assessment tools have also aided special education in the district. “We had 100 percent of our sixth, seventh and eighth grade special education students pass the state math test this year,” says Beaman. “That was so impressive, and it was because our special ed teachers have fully embraced everything that Learning.com has to offer.”
Looking to the future, Beaman feels confident that Grand View, despite its many challenges, will continue to provide students with a quality education that includes the digital skills so crucial to succeeding in the 21st century.
“The digital skills curriculum in Learning.com is so critical; every student today needs to learn about digital citizenship,” she says. “We know that the state of Oklahoma is currently working on new K12 standards for digital skills, but we also know we’re going to be ahead of the curve, thanks to Learning.com.”
For more information, visit www.learning.com/explore.