Just last month I visited CLA, the private, WASC-accredited, K-12 school nestled between The Lodge and Trout Creek Recreation Center in Tahoe Donner. I was eager to learn about how teachers leverage iPads to enhance learning, and was most impressed by the extraordinary level of student engagement in the elementary and secondary classes observed.
First and second grade students concentrate as they practice reading as well as tracing and grouping letters using the touch screen. The elementary teachers guide students in sounding out words and practicing challenging language arts lessons. Teens told me about how they use different apps to reinforce vocabulary they are studying in their German and Spanish classes. A middle / high school teacher empowered students to explore different web sites and experiment with key words during a research project. In short - "21st century skills" are seamlessly woven into the classroom to emphasize and reinforce traditional content.
Based on research compiled in “Knowledge for Generations,” a Wiley publication, the iGeneration, like its predecessor, has a strong need to be connected – this means being separated from digital devices is stressful but, here's the kicker, so is using the devices all of the time!
At CLA high school students have regular technology breaks and middle school students can go online for mid-day tech breaks. Teachers and staff have found that it is more effective to allow tech breaks with a structure than to forbid it. "This allows students to focus on the task at hand since they know they’ll be allowed to spend time connecting online," explains CLA's director Lisa Crosby, who has been studying brain research as it applies to learning and school culture since earning a master’s degree in the late 1990s.
CLA is a haven for families seeking a nurturing and academically rigorous environment for their children including winter student athletes and others who frequently travel. True to its name, education is tailored to each and every student whether the student is enrolled full time or taking advantage of supplementary services such as tutoring, courses for credit or homework club.
Custom Learning Academy is located at 12710 Northwoods Boulevard in Truckee. For more information visit customlearning.org or call (530) 587-5470.