Creekland Middle seventh-graders Anika Sebuddle, left, Arianna Long and Valentina Arango take part in a group quiz using a Google Nexus tablet the school received this year using a $2,600 technology grant from the Clipper Petroleum Foundation. (Staff Photo: Keith Farner)
LAWRENCEVILLE — A grant received this school year has transformed how Creekland Middle School students learn social studies, caused some to want to learn more, and triggered the Parent Teacher Association to add more technology.
The school was awarded a $2,600 grant from the Clipper Petroleum Foundation, and Creekland administrators used the grant money to buy 10 Google Nexus tablets with a charging station and a set of eight wireless PowerPoint remotes for teachers.
The tablets added to Creekland’s technology resources that in recent years have included student response systems, or “clickers,” to answer multiple choice questions before they’re displayed on a screen at the front of the room.
“This was directly related to technology and assessment,” said Assistant Principal Jane Ann Buturff, who applied for the grant. “How can you use technology to assess student learning? That’s why we bought the tablets. We’re in this technology age where teachers can quiz the kids, test the kids, the kids can sit there with their phone. Not every kid has a phone, so that’s why we needed more tablets.”
On Wednesday, teacher Michael Krolak gave his seventh-grade students a 40-question review quiz about economics. Krolak said he’s noticed a decline in discipline, and it’s easier to monitor student progress.
The software the school uses, Socrative, allows students in 10 groups to answer questions together, and compete against a neighboring classroom. On a screen at the front of the room, a rocket ship moves forward based on correct answers.
“It’s high interest for the kids,” Buturff said. “They love it, we need more.”
Through the Bring Your Own Device program that Creekland was approved for in October, Krolak said he’s learned about electronics and technology, too.
“This is their language, this is something that they do, they’re familiar with,” Krolak said. “I’ve learned from them a lot of times just as much as they’ve learned from me.”
The success of the tablets caused the PTA to purchase 60 Apple iPads to add to the school’s technology inventory. Local school technology coordinator Stephen Dudley made the order on Wednesday. The tablets are especially valuable as teachers and students review for the upcoming criterion-referenced competency tests, commonly called CRCTs.
“The tablets, as with all technology, allow the teacher immediate feedback,” Dudley said. “He can immediately see how many students got it correct, how many missed it, and the good thing is if he sees the majority of students answered correctly, he knows that skill has been mastered and he can move on to the next one. If the majority of students answered incorrectly, he knows he needs to stop and remediate and maybe re-teach that concept again.”
Two students in Krolak’s social studies class said the tablets are more ideal than paper and pencil because they help save trees. Teachers, administrators and staff believe they keep students more engaged.
“It makes it more interesting for them that they can just tap and go, and it’s learning on their level where paper and pencil might be boring,” Dudley said.
And while the majority of students have an electronic device, not all do, so the tablets help close the gap along with the school’s five computer labs to accomodate the school’s 2,240 students.
“I think at our time, because we’re in the space age, we’re used to using technology so it gets us more motivated to use it,” seventh-grader Arianna Long said. “I think it’s a better way for us to have a better sense of actually taking tests on it. It should go from actual paper because they say it’s cutting down trees. They should move to electronics for everything.”