For seventh graders in Dacula Middle School’s Fast Track classroom, every school day is an intergalactic adventure. They’re cadets on the USS Innerpride fending off enemies like the Mathonians, a fiendish foe trying to keep the at-risk students from conquering mathematics.
This role-playing isn’t about “trekism” — although teachers Celisa Edwards and Jayne Lawson do dress for battle every school day in Star Trek uniforms. Rather, it’s an innovative way to help at-risk students” explore new ideas and new experiences, and to boldly go where no student has gone before.”
The Starfleet’s academic weapon of choice: Lenovo computers.
Seventh grade is a critical year for strengthening the academic foundation that students will need to succeed in high school, college and beyond. Every year, Dacula Middle identifies 40 of its rising sixth graders whose Criterion-Referenced Competency Test scores indicate they are at risk for failing the academic challenges that will be presented to them in seventh grade. These 40 Fast Track students become cadets of the USS Innerpride.
The school’s goal is to use innovative teaching techniques enhanced with computer-assisted learning tools to reach each of these at-risk learners individually, improving their skills, confidence and CRCT results.
The USS Innerpride is a theatrical classroom approach based on sound educational methodology. The technology-infused co-teaching technique of the teachers — called “commanders” by their cadets — allows students to get individualized instruction and instantaneous feedback at all times. Students click to respond to questions that flash on screens around the classroom.
They use their Lenovo ThinkCentre desktops, powered by Intel’s secure chip technology, to create pictorial charts that restate — or reimagine — the concepts they’ve learned. They chart scientific probabilities, such as the genetic traits that the offspring of the classroom’s black and white mice are likely to inherit. They use their digital songbook to sing along to sneakily educational tunes Lawson writes to help them remember grammar rules and math formulas.
“At the end of the school year, our students are proficient in a myriad of software applications, such as Microsoft Word, Publisher, Excel and Movie Maker, as well as Inspiration,” Edwards says.
“Our Fast Track classroom is founded on the pedagogical belief that people learn in different ways,” she says. “Computer-assisted learning engages every type of learner. The integration of technology into our instructional practice meets the needs of our students, who are fully immersed in a digital world.”
Using Lenovo ThinkCentre desktops to enable student-specific learning has yielded impressive results.
The commanders correlate the skyrocketing scores to a doubling of students’ hands-on computer time in their classroom. “With the integration of computer technology into our instructional practice, our students experience academic success, become self-directed in their learning experiences and emerge as confident and enthusiastic lifelong learners,” Edwards says.
The USS Innerpride’s reliance on ThinkCentre desktops is part of a longstanding relationship between Lenovo, Intel and Gwinnett County. Gwinnett chooses Lenovo because of the company’s reputation for providing teachers and students with innovative and reliable PC technology, says Scott Futrell, Chief Information Officer of Gwinnett County Public Schools. By standardizing the school district on Lenovo technology, Gwinnett has reduced PC support costs by 30 percent a year.
Lenovo computers, powered by Intel, are the district standard not only because they are on the leading edge of PC technology, but also because they can withstand everyday use and abuse by students — even seventh graders on Deep Space missions.
“Our Lenovo PC solution enables us to create new, innovative experiences for our students, while helping the district maintain a consistent, secure and cost-effective computing platform,” Futrell says.