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Education? There's an app for that

By Rachel Shirey

rachel@news-daily.com

RIVERDALE—Ka’torria Garraway excitedly chatted with her 5th grade classmates as she “played” math games on school-issued iPods.

Visitors would never have guessed she was actually completing a rigorous math assignment issued by her teacher.

The “Age of Technology” has managed to integrate itself in the classrooms at Lake Ridge Elementary, and into the hands of school-aged children like Garraway.

Lake Ridge is one of the first schools in the district to successfully implement the use of new digital technology into the classrooms to make learning fun and more engaging, boosting student achievement.

“The curriculum is still rigorous, but the instructional practices are the most engaging, capturing all the technology and bringing it into the classroom,” Lake Ridge Elementary Principal Dr. Michael Powell said. “I think it’s pretty cool.”

In a presentation delivered during a principals meeting on Nov. 8, it was announced that 100 percent of 5th grade students at Lake Ridge are meeting state common core standards.

The state average was only 68 percent, but the state’s goal is to have 87 percent of students meet or exceed the standards.

“Our 5th Grade students are in the top 5 percent of 5th graders in the county. Our 5th grade math and science teachers, who use the iPods daily, have documented evidence that student performance has increased.”

The elementary school’s new goal is to start shifting more students into the “exceeds standards” category by encouraging more teachers to use iPods as learning tools on daily basis.

“(Students are) excited about it,” Powell said. “And I think they’re excited about it No. 1 because it’s an iPod, and you know when you’re using it, It’s OK to use it. It’s not like you have to hide it like kids typically do with technology from cell phones and smart phones. But it has increased their academic achievement.”

Students work with apps such as the “YourTeacher” app that offers tutorials, games and teaches fractions and congruent figures.

“It’s fun, but it’s a different learn way to learn,” Garraway said. “We learn multiplying fractions, adding fractions, decimals, comparing decimals, rounding decimals, finding the greatest common factor and finding the least common multiple.”

Cedrick Coleman, one teacher using iPods in the classroom daily, said he now feels like he has a stress free job since the implementation of the technology.

“I believe it works well for me because I’m seeing progress from the students and I’m seeing higher performance levels, I’m seeing more interest in the students and they’re more actively engaged in the learning as opposed to not really paying attention,” Coleman said.