East Fannin Elementary School, of the Fannin County School System in rural northern Georgia, was searching for a solution that would meet the differentiated needs of its students and also serve as a key tool to drive the success of its response to intervention (RTI) program. East Fannin first began using EducationCity in 2008, starting with kindergarten through fifth grade core modules (Language Arts, Math, and Science) and later added sixth grade content. All students have access to EducationCity in the computer lab and/or the classroom. Kindergarten, first, and second grade students utilize the resource as part of their daily center activities; third and fourth graders practice mastery of skills and are taught on interactive whiteboards; and fifth grade teachers are using EducationCity as an extension activity for gifted students. Academic coach Crystal Cooke prescribes interventions for RTI students and says special education teachers are using the resource regularly as part of their instructional practice.
EducationCity’s signature activities are designed with young learners in mind. Activities utilize engaging animation, bright colors, and catchy music. Cooke says that EducationCity activities capture her students’ attention. “They hardly realize they’re learning,” she explained. “Students are excited to get on the computer and work on these games. The self-explanatory activities ease young students into independent learning without the burden of remembering passwords and ID numbers. Not only does EducationCity teach students a sense of responsibility for their own learning, but it is user-friendly so that students and teachers are excited to use it. Through this program, Georgia Performance Standards [GPS] are reviewed, remediation is supplied, and enrichment is addressed, focusing assignments and interventions on specific student needs.”
East Fannin utilizes the MyCity feature to prescribe primary intervention in math and reading. Cooke assigns a MyCity to each of her at-risk students containing activities at his or her skill level, and prescriptions are made based on need. Because all learning styles are included, EducationCity is a great resource for students who may respond better to material presented in differing formats. “[EducationCity] addresses auditory, visual, and to some extent, kinesthetic learners,” Cooke said.
East Fannin also uses EducationCity as a progress-monitoring tool to present to parents in RTI meetings. Cooke says that one of the major benefits of the resource is the fact that students are unaware if they are working in a special MyCity that addresses their particular needs because every one of their peers is working on something different. As East Fannin’s RTI method has proven successful, Cooke says that the added value of EducationCity activities is increasing student self-esteem and encouraging a responsibility for learning.
Since implementing EducationCity in 2008, East Fannin has seen its test scores increase significantly. Particularly notable achievement jumps have been seen in third and fourth grade math scores. In the 2008–09 school year, 77 percent of East Fannin third graders and 68 percent of fourth graders met or exceeded Georgia state math standards. By the 2009–10 school year, 93 percent of the school’s third graders and 82 percent of fourth graders fell into that category. In fact, math performance across all grades is noteworthy. In 2008–09, 65 percent of East Fannin students met or exceeded state math standards. That number jumped to 85 percent the following year. As a result, the school met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
As a matter of fact, a math specialist from another Georgia school district contacted Cooke because she had noticed the great gains East Fannin made in math achievement from the state report card. “She wanted to know what we were doing to make such a difference,” Cooke said. “I truly believe that one significant source of our achievement is the utilization of [EducationCity].”
East Fannin Elementary School is looking forward to continued gains in student achievement, skill development, differentiation, specialized intervention implementation, and engagement with its increasing integration of EducationCity. “We can’t wait to see what the [future] brings in the realm of additional activities with regard to our change over to national standards. Students and teachers alike say [EducationCity] is their favorite software for remediation, drill/practice, review, and enrichment,” Cooke said. “There are very few programs that can meet all these areas of need!”
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