E-Day At FSC’s Roberts Academy: School Emphasizes How Technology Enhances Learning
All classrooms in the Roberts Academy are equipped with Smart Boards, the touch-sensitive screens that allow teachers to make almost any lesson interactive
LAKELAND (Dec. 15, 2011) – Educational technology plays an important role at the Roberts Academy, the exceptional elementary school at Florida Southern College for children with dyslexia. All classrooms are equipped with Smart Boards, the touch-sensitive screens that allow teachers to make almost any lesson interactive.
Administrators at the school, one of just a few in the Southeast that helps children with dyslexia learn how to cope with their condition so they can return to regular schools, are looking for new ways to use educational technology, said Dr. Tracey Tedder, FSC’s Dean of the School of Education and the Roberts Academy’s Head of School. Research shows that technology is particularly beneficial to kids with dyslexia.
“Technology is multisensory. Research has found that’s what the brain responds to. And technology is good for the constant repetition kids need to learn,” she said.
Now in its second year, the Roberts Academy has an enrollment of 63 students in five grades. Just before the Christmas break, the Academy held E-Day, a day devoted to trying some new applications devised by students of Dr. Jennifer King, assistant professor of education at FSC.
In a successful example of FSC’s emphasis on engaged learning, Dr. King’s students devised four games that they tried out using the Smart Boards in the Roberts Academy classrooms. Dr. King said the FSC students in her course on educational technology had to create the interactive games addressing literacy, math or science.
In one game, Roberts Academy students spun a digital Wheel of Fortune to see how many points they would win if they answered a question correctly. Students were quizzed on definitions, synonyms and antonyms. Another game, Ants Go Marching, required students to unscramble letters to find the correct answer.
The games had a basic level for students in the Academy’s grades one through three and a more advanced level for grades four and five. The FSC students doubled as “tech buddies,” guiding the Roberts students through the games.
In yet another extraordinary leap forward for employing technology, the Roberts Academy plans to purchase laptop computers in January which will be given to the 12 students in the fifth grade. The students will use the laptops during instructional periods at school and will be allowed to take them home at night. When the students leave the school, the laptops will be theirs to keep.
King says it is “a myth” that kids can’t be trusted to use and properly care for a sophisticated technological device like a laptop.
“They’re born with clickers in their hands. My philosophy is that we can trust even pre-kindergarten kids with laptops and mobile devices,” she said. “Technology engages high-order thinking skills. The Partnership for 21st-Century Skills says that technology fosters collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking.”
The approximately $9,000 to purchase the laptops was raised through a fundraising effort organized by a parent of one of the students, Tedder said.
“We never dreamed we’d be able to purchase the laptops in January. Our goal was next fall. Our mission is to prepare them to be successful students after they leave Roberts Academy. This is one further way to help them prepare” she said.