The Enterprise school district is small (900 students in grades PreK-12) but effective; it has been one of the top-rated districts in the state for the last 10 years. Its program for gifted and talented students involves a great deal of digital learning, including video game design classes, where students use tablets and laptops to create characters, stories, and animated images before publishing their games for their peers to play.
Students also learn to code and fly drones (in the gym). They do this in teams of five, with one student each as an engineer, mechanic, pilot, spotter, and safety officer. Classes also include instruction in physics, flight paths, and rules and regulations, but the focus is on teamwork, problem-solving, and real-world applications. “We try to tie everything that we teach into some sort of career path. With drones, this could be meteorology or surveying damage after a tornado,” says teacher Amber Goodman. She recalled a classroom discussion about a scientist who uses a drone to collect DNA samples from “whale snot.”
These digital learning activities are challenging students who are bored or “on autopilot” in their regular classes. “They’re not used to failing, so they are learning that they need to push through and solve problems,” says Goodman. “We’re always telling them the hard things are the fun things.”