By: Emily Swartz, Druid Hills facilitator
Druid Hills Academy is a Pre-K through 8th grade school in the Project L.I.F.T. Zone of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina. This year, all first through fourth grade students will be receiving an XO laptop. The teachers have already received an XO from their summer training, and are working hard to plan for the arrival of the XO’s. There have already been several events held at Druid Hills to drum up the excitement with students and parents about the opportunities that the laptops will bring to these learners!
On Thursday, August 23, students and parents from Druid Hills Academy came to kick off the new school year at the Open House Carnival. Students were able to meet their new teachers, play in bounce houses, eat pizza, and of course get their first look at the XO! OLPC was there with ten XO’s to let students see and explore their new tool. Parents and students were both excited to hear that all first through fourth grade students would be getting a laptop this year. There were a lot of questions that were fielded by our project manager, David Jessup, and the site facilitator, Emily Swartz.
Another exciting event at Druid Hills was the opportunity to give a second grade class a sneak peak at the XO’s. Due to overcrowding, a small class of 11 advanced students was created to challenge these students and enrich the academic services they receive. Since this class is so small, we were able to provide each of these students with a loaner laptop. After weeks of anticipation, the students were cheering when they got to put their hands on their very own XO for the first time. The students have been so excited to explore and get to know their XO’s. Currently students are working on exploring an activity on their own and then explaining the functions of the activity to their classmates. It is amazing to see the students learning so much on their own and the excitement to share their knowledge with others.
North Carolina made a transition this year from the North Carolina Standard Course of Study to The Common Core Standards. The Common Core Standards are national standards that provide a clear and consistent understanding of what students are expected to learn. They are rigorous and relevant to the twenty first century. The Common Core Standards reflect the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. Druid Hills designated a whole night to informing parents about The Common Core Standards and how their student’s education will be different this year. This provided a perfect opportunity to inform parents about the XO and how it fits in perfectly with the goals of The Common Core Curriculum. We got to speak to parents in every first through fourth grade class to inform them that their child would be getting a laptop and the benefits that the laptop would bring to their child’s education. After the information sessions, our OLPC facilitator was able to attend the pasta dinner that was served and talk with students and families in a more personal way to discuss questions and opportunities that came along with the XO. This was another great step forward as we seek to inform our school and the community about our exceptional educational tool.
Day to Day
Teachers at Druid Hills continue to surpass our expectations each day. Although at this point there are only a limited amount of laptops at the school, Druid Hills teachers are using creativity and teamwork to ensure that students are getting exposed to the XO laptops. First grade teachers have combined all of the teacher laptops to create learning centers with the XO’s. Second grade students have a 15 minute block everyday that they get to explore Activities on the XO. In third grade, teachers are flex grouping their students and giving opportunities to work with the XO and the local newspaper. And in fourth grade, pairs of students can be found rotating through a computer station where they are playing and creating memorization games. It is exhilarating to see the XO’s everyday as we travel through classrooms! Check back for more updates on Druid Hills Academy and other schools in the Project L.I.F.T Zone.