Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
I am a Kindergarten teacher in an iPad pilot and I thought you might be interested in hearing straight from the source how 1:1 student devices, specifically iPads, are not only increasing student achievement, but also changing the culture of teaching and learning in the 21st century classroom.
Many resources are needed to create a positive, successful learning environment, not the least of which is a teacher who seeks to make the environment rich in learning experiences. This does not happen by accident. It requires careful, thoughtful, and reflective planning. It also requires knowing the individual needs of students. In a classroom of 30 students, there are 30 different learning styles, 30 different personalities, and 30 different ways to approach learning. Individualized instruction tailored for each child was impossible to implement on a daily basis in all subjects before the integration of iPads in my classroom.
Now I have a tool to enrich students who are ready to expand their learning, and at the same time, provide enormous support for those needing additional learning opportunities on a daily basis. With the iPads, I am able to use applications to target very specific and individualized needs of my students. For example, I can give extra practice with naming letters and sounds to those who are struggling and can give my advanced students the opportunity to interact with above grade level vocabulary words. Before the integration of the iPads, I would have to spend hours searching for worksheets to try to meet these specific needs. The iPad allows me to truly individualize instruction and tailor each lesson, regardless of subject matter for each of the diverse needs of my students.
The outcome, after only 14 weeks of implementation, surpasses even my own high expectations. I am teaching the same reading and writing program, students are similar, the only change has been using the iPad as a tool to differentiate instruction. The data from my classroom is compelling. Last year, before the implementation of iPads, 46% of my students were reading books on grade level, 39% were reading books above grade level and 15% were reading books below grade level. After the implementation of the iPads, 100% of my students are reading above grade level. Because I can individualize instruction with the iPads, 100% of my students are reading first grade sight words, without the ipads, only 65% were able to accomplish this.
I facilitate learning by setting up experiences and then watch my students take off and discover the concepts on their own. They are now problem solvers, and critical thinkers who collaborate by teaching each other. Allowing them to take ownership for their own learning has blossomed into far more than I could have imagined it would even at a Kindergarten level. Now in my classroom, there are no limits to learning.
1:1 student devices are not new, they have been around for years and the research is available to show this type of learning is successful. It is not about a new flashy device (the iPad) as you might hear critics say, it is about an affordable tool that is available to change the way we do business in the classroom.
How much more would our children be achieving if all teachers were able to use 1:1 devices such as the as iPads to create a standards-based rich learning environment and provide the opportunity for students to construct their own learning instead of filling out a worksheet? Let's dare to try!