Claremore Daily Progress

May 12, 2012

The Apple: No longer just a gift for teachers

Catoosa Public Schools participate in Apple Blended Digital Learning Environment

Salesha Wilken
Staff Writer

CLAREMORE —  

Far beyond the once familiar smell of chalk dust and the sight of a blackboard in the classroom, students at Catoosa Public Schools are getting a different type of education.
They are a part of the Apple Blended Digital Learning Environment.
These students are learning with interactive tools like laptops and smart boards. 
Armed with Apple computers, each student in the sixth through ninth grade now has a new plan for success in education.
Beginning just a few short years ago, Catoosa administrators began laying the groundwork for the program that has quickly become a success.
The program began after community support for school bonds provided the opportunity and funding to move to the Apple computer systems, according to Superintendent Rick Kibbe.
First the teachers received desktop computers then the students received individual laptops.
Now the program is expanding and by the beginning of the next school year all students in grades six through 12 will have a laptop issued to them.
The sixth grade students do not take the computers home with them but use them throughout the school day.
All other students get the opportunity to take the computers home and it provides a greater learning experience, according to school officials.
Andrea Williams, Education Technology Instruction Specialist explained that the new curriculum will help meet the changing core curriculum standards and incorporated the technology resources of the future.
“We are building curriculum for our students that integrates the core curriculum,” Williams said.
The computers are bringing families closer together and provides a tool that can be used at home for students and parents, Kibbe said.
At school students are engaged and excited to use the tools that are now available to them, according to classroom teachers.
“We use a roadmap to research, it is research without frustration and it provides a way for students to learn without getting lost on random websites,” said Diane Walden, English teacher.
The teachers are not the only ones noticing the difference and students are voicing their opinions as well.
“Personally, I like to do research. Not all the kids have the Internet at home. Now this makes it easier to do assignments,” Madison Chalupa said.
Sometimes the new equipment is a real time saver, according to teachers, however the additionally resources can lead to more time preparing lesson plans.
Overall, the teachers say it is well worth it and students are generally more engaged because they are using the Internet.
Catoosa Public Schools are the first in the state of Oklahoma to implement this scale of a program. 
School officials continue to look for new ways to prepare students for what will be next in their educational journey, ultimately preparing them for “real world” success.