Hamilton County school administrators have enthusiastically embraced personal technology devices for every student, but it's a slow, expensive process. Thanks to the generosity of some local businesses and foundations, the future is getting a little closer. In one elementary classroom it has already arrived.
It's the first thing you notice when you walk into Ashley Frogg's fourth grade classroom at Woodmore Elementary School. It's an atmosphere like no other. There's an absence of pencils, papers, wiggling and noise. Instead, there's a quiet hum of activity, illuminated by the light of 25 iPads. Homework is no longer a chore.
Most of the students were not that familiar with such devices just a few weeks ago. Some are lucky to have a computer at home, and others had seen nothing more advanced than a basic cell phone. Now, it's how they learn, take their tests, and prepare for the future.
Book reports are now digital, tests are online, and heavy textbooks are a thing of the past.
When the state transitions to online testing, it'll be just another day for Woodmore fourth graders. This wouldn't be possible without financial support from the Downtown Rotary Club and the Benwood Foundation, and teacher training from the Public Education Foundation.
Woodmore qualified for the pilot program because of its status as a low-performing I-Zone school. There is a lot riding on the results of this class. Mrs. Frogg reports regularly to county administrators. She says she's expecting significant gains when test scores come out later this spring, because of the level of engagement. Repetition has been replaced by creativity, and once-dreaded daily tasks are now more fun for students and teachers.
Woodmore is one of six schools with the iPad pilot program. Three others, on Signal Mountain are also establishing a BYOD (bring your own device) policy this school year. Superintendent Rick Smith says his goal is still to get some sort of device into the hands of every student, but that will require serious upgrades in school facility networking and funding