CHERRY VALLEY, AR (KAIT) -Technology is an everyday part of our lives. Computers have been in the schools for years. But now the schools in Cross County are being challenged to use their Macs in a different way.
Starting with kindergarten every child in the Cross County schools is issued a Macintosh computer.
They have had them for about 3 years but this year how they are being used is changing.
It's a new philosophy for teachers.
Cross County Superintendent Dr. Matt McClure says this year his teachers have a big challenge, to not concentrate on technology and use it as a tool to make sure the graduates from Cross County will be ready for real world challenges.
"How do we create problems in the classroom that are relevant to kids that are in their context? That they address the state framework and then we turn the kids into researchers and problem solvers in the classroom."
In Miss Jodie's kindergarten class they start learning how to use the Mac from day 1. So they are having to learn their ABC's and basic colors as well as right click a mouse.
Jodie Hess says many of her kindergartners are familiar with computer operations. She says many of them can already spell their names, now it's transition time.
"They can write their name with pencil and paper I need to go ahead and start how they can do it on the computers."
Superintendent McCall says last week they had an inservice where people from all over the world came in to help teachers develop ideas to challenge kids versus just teach them.
"We've got to move from the teacher being the keeper of all knowledge to being the facilitator in the classroom."
In the sixth grade they actually get to take their Macs home to do homework and projects which they can turn in on line. The absence of books in the classrooms is quite noticeable.
After explaining a process to make a computer visual for a presentation, 6th Grade Science teacher Heidi Brewington asked her students.
"Do you think you guys could remember a science like this with visuals and pictures instead of just writing down definitions and all that?"
I took a simple poll of Mrs. Brewingtons class asking how many students had a computer at home. 18 out of 20 did and nearly half had more than one.
Superintendent McClure says they haven't reached the point where teachers will be more facilitating than all knowing but there is no going back.
"We can't keep going back to the memorization, regurgitation method of conducting school."
Cross county has approximately 650 K-through-12 students.
The school has spent around 750-Thousand dollars for computers, servers and training.
Some of the money for the computers has come from outside sources.
And no, the students don't get to keep the Macs when they graduate, not yet anyway.