Feb 16, 2011 7:25 PM by Carolyn Cerda

Technology Boosting Education

New interactive curricula are being presented to Louisiana school boards, including those in Acadiana. They are updated materials for schools who are already using technology in classrooms, like N.P. Moss Middle School's STEM Academy.

"When I first started in 1985, everything was paper and pencil and chalkboards," said Patti Garbarino, the Science Technology Instructor at STEM Academy.

The STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. At this school, every subject incorporates some form of technology.

"It kind of opens doors," said Garbarino. "Students who may be reluctant to what an instructor is asking them to do, seem to be more open minded when a computer is involved."

With technology ever evolving, educators say they need interactive curriculum with not just textbooks, but with videos and online resources as well.

That where new programs come into play. Pearson's Louisiana Interactive Science, is one of many companies hoping to be adopted by local schools.

"These children are raised in digital," said Dr. Kathy Thornton, a former astronaut and author of Pearson's Louisiana Interactive Science. "They're born that way, they watch TV, they play video games, they text. They do everything in the digital world and this takes advantage of that, this reaches them on that level."

Aligned with the state's robust comprehensive curriculum, Pearson's new instructional materials include a science adventure video series, online virtual labs, "e-text" editions, and other digital resources specifically designed by the nation's leading science education experts to meet the unique needs of Louisiana students.

"It's considered almost entertainment," said Dr. Thornton. "When you can present science content and have them think they're being entertained, that's got to be a win."

Both educators and curriculum developers say these tools allow teachers to address how individual students learn.

According to Pearson, research conducted by Magnolia Consulting showed that fourth grade students who used the Interactive Science jumped an average of 21 percentile points from pre to post-assessment after only two to three months with the program.

Individual parishes will have to decide whether or not to adopt these programs. But, at STEM Academy, curriculum that already uses technology is a hit with both teachers and students.

"When I see 20 plus students stay after school for a program, they're donating their time, the whole room is alive with energy," said Garbarino. "It's been exciting. It keeps me energized."



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