"The kids do homework assignments, respond to teacher prompts, and they are also great graphic organizers," Powell said.
The computers were put into these Moultrie Middle School classrooms because of funding by the state for professors who want to write research briefs. The teachers perform met-analyses, where they take the research and look at it with an overview eye. A South Carolina school is then spotlighted, that is currently participating in what the research brief topic is about.
"We have a $25,000 grant to support the writing of research briefs written by South Carolina professors. They will concentrate on topics pertinent to middle school education and young adolescents," Powell said.
The computer study began in September and will continue through December. Powell said that the goal of the study is to observe if the kids like to use the handhelds. They will also see if the handhelds help students show more engagement in classroom activities than before they were introduced.
The results will be published online on the South Carolina Middle School Association website. The South Carolina Middle School Association wants to continue the momentum of the middle school movement. The organization works with teacher candidates who want to teach middle school. Along with the professional development of teacher candidates, the organization also strives to provide and to the middle school community. Annually the association sends six students to Philadelphia for a national conference and 25 students to a state conference in Myrtle Beach.
Powell has plenty of experience with middle school because she began as a teacher at Lang Middle School in Charleston. After completing her doctorate in 1994, she switched into higher education. "I always knew I wanted to teach college," she said.
"I have always loved school; I will never be away from education. I can't do anything else."
Powell's love of education is evident in every course she teaches at the College of Charleston and her students have taken notice. Education major Michelle Martin says Powell is one of her favorite professors at the College of Charleston.
"Dr. Powell has this amazing ability to get her students to love education just as much as she does, which is almost impossible!" Martin said.
Not only is Powell an accomplished professor, she has compiled her research over the years to formulate a textbook for middle schools. She wrote about this research in her textbook, "Introduction to Middle School," which is used in more than 50 U.S. schools.
In the future, Powell hopes that the computers will stay in the classrooms at Moultrie Middle School because the students are responding well to their presence. She also hopes her textbook will reach out to more schools all over the nation.
For more information about the South Carolina Professors of Middle Level Education, visit www.middlelevel.pdx.edu or for more information about Dr. Sara Powell, visit www.cofc.edu/~powells/.