George Lucas Educational Foundation

Forest Lake Elementary School

Grades K-5 | Columbia, SC

Tech-Fueled Differentiated Instruction Engages Elementary School Students

At Forest Lake Elementary School, in Columbia, South Carolina, achievement has soared since educators started using new technology to personalize the learning experience for each student. More to this story.
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share

Tech-Fueled Differentiated Instruction Engages Elementary School Students (Trancript)

Good morning and welcome to "Forest Lake Today". Alex, do you have any announcements?

Yes, I do…

Narrator: Watching the morning TV show at Forest Lake Elementary in Columbia, South Carolina, gives you a good sense of what this school is all about.

Speaking of cool, Robert, what's the weather going to be like today?

Narrator: It is a place where differentiated instruction sparks every individual's passion for learning.

Right now I want to introduce you to our team, and they're going to tell you about their invention.

Well, the Sani-Sipper, there's a tube that hooks up to this nozzle, and it has a detector, causing the sanitizer to clean it at every use.

Our mission is the super-absorbent polymer, and…

Narrator: They have partnered with NASA and focused on science, technology, engineering, math and geography.

Here. Let's link this up. We might need this.

Kappy Cannon: I think many, many years ago students who were in teacher-education programs learned how to kind of teach down the middle and do a little here and a little there. Well, we know that that's not right for children, and there's no such thing as a regular classroom. Our school is a microcosm of the world, so we work very hard to make sure that we know where children are. We don't take time to teach things that they already know. We try to go where they are and take them as far as we can.

Absolutely. Deval, did you want to add to that?

Kappy Cannon: You'll see the students are at different stations working on different projects and different tasks that they need to accomplish. The students are self-directed. They know what it is that they are supposed to be working on, and this enables the teacher to work with children as a facilitator and also provide extra attention in areas where it is needed.

Martha Washington. There she is.

Kevin Durden: Everybody's showing their learning in a way that is comfortable to them. They're learning the subject matter that we assign, but they're expressing it in different ways.

If you missed any, you can go back and look at your question.

Tamika Lowe: At the beginning of the year we do a variety of assessments. We have our MAT testing, which is a computerized assessment, and it gives us feedback as far as different literary strands and mathematical strands. And it breaks it down for each child to let us know what range they're in and how we can better group them, how we could better teach them within those groups.

I decided I want to be a police officer the day two officers came to our school. They brought…

Tamika Lowe: And we also have palm pilots, where we sit one on one with a child and we assess their reading abilities.

They told us all about their jobs and how the police dogs work with them -- works with them.

Tamika Lowe: It's work that's well worth it when you see how far they've grown, not only in terms of numbers and scores, but you see their ability to do things at the end of the year that they couldn't do, quite frankly, or couldn't do well at the beginning of the year. You feel a sense of gratification, and that's why we're in it.

That might be good that the classes work as a group, collaboratively.

Kappy Cannon: We've used a number of different models over the years for staff development and training. At this point in our process, we use a collaborative meeting every other week, and that is a very honored, treasured time. You don't miss your collaborative. Professionally speaking, everyone expects you to be there, and it's a meeting that you don't want to miss, because it's a meeting where you kind of massage your unit plan to be better and better.

We can take an inventory of things that they want to specifically learn about that country and not necessarily…

We're doing graphing and math, so that'll be a great way to tie in.

You want to use the pointer and make it go up a little bit more?


Narrator: Technology is ubiquitous here…

You ready to check that out? Go ahead.

Narrator: …from the biometric system used to check out library books to the student response systems…

Two nights plus three nights plus one night, please.

Narrator: …to white boards that bring the world to the classroom…

…and my friends and I will be so happy to start with our Arabic national anthem.

Narrator: …to the keyboards. [ keyboard music playing ]

Left, right.

Kappy Cannon: Actually, there're probably a number of schools that have as much technology as we do. I think the difference is that at Forest Lake we use the technology and we maximize it, and the only way to do that is to constantly train and to constantly think ahead…

This one just as an example.

Kappy Cannon: …to find out what technology is applicable and helpful and can be used as a tool for academic achievement.

The first step, as I put them in different cups, one was polymer. One they did with the Dr. Pepper. One they did with the cranberry juice, and the other they did with low-fat milk.

What attracted you to do this type of experiment?

I always wanted to help people and be a surgeon or a doctor, and so I'm like -- I really like NASA, and so I'm thinking about being a -- I want to be a doctor there.

Joshua: Sometimes I just go to, like, writing Web sites, because I'm thinking about being an author when I'm older.

Haleema: I want to be a vet or I want to be a doctor, maybe a teacher or a librarian. I still have lots of things. My first thing was a rocket scientist.

Get Video
Embed Code Embed Help

You are welcome to embed this video, download it for personal use, or use it in a presentation for a conference, class, workshop, or free online course, so long as a prominent credit or link back to Edutopia is included. If you'd like more detailed information about Edutopia's allowed usages, please see the Licenses section of our Terms of Use.


Video Credits

Produced, Written and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis


  • Karen Sutherland

Associate Producer

  • Doug Keely

Camera Crew

  • Michael Epstein
  • Perry Goodfriend

Video Programming Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy


  • Michael Pritchard

Original Music

  • Ed Bogas

Support for Edutopia's Schools That Work series is provided, in part, by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Comments (5) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Brian Romero Smith Sr.'s picture
Brian Romero Smith Sr.
Technology Coordinator, Dallas, Texas

The integration of technology in meaningful and relevant manners creates a learning environment that is guaranteed to maximize the success opportunities for today's digital learner. I'm excited to see what a school could look like when technology is embraced.

LaQuita Denson's picture

This is great info. Thanks for sharing. I was able to visit your school several years ago during a Technology Conference. You guys are AWESOME!

Margaret L. Freeman's picture

I sincerely hope that my school district will be able to come up with the resources to implement some of the very interesting and seemingly effective new technology portrayed in this lesson - it would seem to offer a great new learning opportunity.

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.