iPads in Education

Innovating education with technology.

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!

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Comment by Magdalena Böttger on July 1, 2011 at 4:51am
Thank you for sharing this story! How did you choose the apps and iBooks you are using? Do you let kids choose by themselves which app to work with?
Comment by Dr. Kristen Brittingham on April 29, 2011 at 10:00pm
I wish you all could visit this classroom.  An amazing teacher, using an amazing tool.  The success of this small pilot has allow our school district to expand to 2,500 iPads.... which will hopefully lead to 44,000 over the next several years.
Comment by Jeremy Dorn on April 29, 2011 at 12:58pm
That's awesome. Learning A to Z is the same material the Experience Corp was using. When I get a chance I will contact them and see if they would be interested in trying a digital approach. We are looking at getting a small iPad lab into the building for next year as an exploratory step. That would be a good place to start. :D
Comment by Kristi Meeuwse on April 28, 2011 at 2:47pm
I have several books downloaded as apps. Learning A to Z has leveled books that are great. With each level, you get 12 books for $6.99. I have level AA, A, B, c, D, and E. This allows students to read on their own level. I also have books from Learning to Read. The books in both of these provide sight word practice from the story as well as comprehension questions. I have several other books that students can choose to listen to or read on their own. So far, I have mostly apps and a few iBooks.
Comment by Jonathan Nalder on April 28, 2011 at 2:46pm
39% above level to 100% above is astounding! Glad to hear you talking about the change in pedagogy as well as the device - I'm going to share this story around the slide2learn network also. Many thanks.
Comment by Jeremy Dorn on April 28, 2011 at 2:01pm
After playing host to a group of from the Experience Corp I noticed that they were constantly lamenting the lack of varatiy of books at various levels. Their supply was dependent on sneaker-net printouts. It made me begin to wonder if an iPad or e-Reader solution wouldn't be a better option. Granted the students could take the e-readers home when they complete a book, but printouts of completed material could be brought. From your wonderful writeup it would actually be a good idea to try it.

Out of curiosity what Apps/Solutions did you use to distribute books and material?
Comment by Deb Burdick-Hinton on April 28, 2011 at 12:44pm
Wow. What a testimony.  I WOULD love to share this information with our local elementary school. How could any school/teacher NOT utilize ipads in early ed after reading this? Thanks for posting.


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