Classroom Transformation, using Technology
When new principal Scott Frauenheim arrived at the West Belden campus of the Chicago International Charter School, he knew he needed to make some changes. “In the traditional setting,” he noted, “we were always doing what’s always been done, and always getting results that we’ve always gotten.” So with a grant from the education non-profit startup LEAP Innovations, Frauenheim got his teachers professional development and new software and technology.
In the new classrooms, students work on laptops and tablets to take interactive quizzes, complete their assignments, or follow along with a teacher, who has a smartboard to address the class. Teachers have restructured their classroom setup and teaching style to maximize the effects of the new technology. Students move through three groups during the day. They can go to seminar with the teacher if they need help on a topic, or work with peers for a review of the material they find easier. In either case, students are working with others who have similar learning needs, strengths, and weaknesses. They can also work ahead, at their own pace– an important element at Chicago International, where the first through third grades are combined in the same classrooms, as are fourth and fifth grades.
The setup gives students much more control over their learning process, allowing them to get additional support when they need it, and work ahead when they’ve grasped a concept already. Teachers say it’s made students more motivated, and results have been great—Chicago International’s student growth and attainment scores are both above the district average.