Over 400 iPads being used by grades 2-5Students in Scott Johnson's class use iPads throughout the day in a variety of ways. They use apps that help reinforce math and reading skills: apps that motivate and engage; and apps that allow students to create technology projects. They also play games and take quizzes. (Submitted photo)[/caption]
By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Using iPads in the classroom has enabled Hamline Elementary School teachers to provide personalized instruction to their students.
And it’s making a difference. Kids are more excited about learning, and teachers report they are more engaged.
Hamline Elementary (formerly Hancock-Hamline University Collaborative Magnet School) has incorporated iPads thanks to a $50,000 two-year grant from the Verizon Foundation and the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE).
This past year Hamline had over 400 iPads deployed in grades 2-5. “In an end-of-the-year survey students reported increased interest in school work when using the iPad and increased access to information,” pointed out Hamline Elementary Principal Craig Anderson. “Teachers reported increased student engagement and ability to meet individual needs with different levels of curriculum when personalized through the use of technology.”
All classrooms used the iPads several times during the day.
HOW ARE THE IPADS USED?
Teachers use the mobile devices as independent activity during work time in reading and math, and as a research tool. With the iPad, a teacher can also get instant feedback on lessons, and assess student understanding, noted Anderson.
They record information, make videos for learning, and take photos.
Plus they can collaborate with students and teachers around the world.
They use apps that help reinforce math and reading skills: apps that motivate and engage; apps that allow students to create technology projects. They play games and take quizzes.
“With the iPads, I am empowered to individualize lessons more quickly and efficiently,” noted fifth grade teacher Diane Smith, who appreciates seeing results in real time. “It takes so much less time than searching through printed material to find activities appropriate for each student’s level. Students have the ability to master skills at their current level and then continue to move higher. They are self-motivated to advance their skills. We use the iPads everyday, pretty much all day in some capacity.”
With the iPads, Smith has begun to front load her classes, which is also known as incorporating a flipped classroom. Students view their lessons at home in the evening and then practice in class the next day.
“They use apps that allow them to show and record their work for me,” noted Smith. “I create interactive lessons. They are able to choose topics to study on the iPads and then create a finished project.”
Last year, Hamline partnered with wonderopolis.com, a web site with multi-disciplinary content that purposefully aligns to Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the STEM Educational Quality Framework, and Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Through this partnership each student in grades 3-5 created a science fair virtual poster using gloogster.edu.
“Our students are making better and faster progress — it’s amazing,” Smith stated.
Smith watched one of her students, Shayd, dramatically increase her basic math skills during the last school year by using an iPad. A shy student, Shayd has been more willing to take risks when working one-on-one with her iPad. She is also highly motivated to take on the next challenge.
Smith noted that the tutors from Hamline University tell the elementary students how they use technology in their college work. “The tutors help my students find information on the iPads during research projects,” said Smith. “They also show them tips that help them utilize the iPads more effectively. I feel my students know that they are learning to use this tool that will help throughout their educational career.”
FOCUS ON TEACHER TRAINING
The focus of the $50,000 grant is to help students develop the skills to support higher education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The grant provides Hamline staff with two years of on-site and virtual innovative training led by ISTE. The training prepares teachers to incorporate mobile technology into classroom learning with strategies that support STEM courses.
The Verizon Foundation launched the Verizon Innovative Learning School (VILS) program in 2012 to support 12 underserved STEM schools across the country in their goal to have their students STEM-ready for the future. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, by 2018 there will be approximately 18 percent growth in careers that require education in STEM fields.
It was such a success that Verizon Foundation doubled the number of grant recipients to 24 schools in 2013, expanding their reach to over 12,000 students.
“The focus of the Verizon Foundation grant is professional development for teachers implementing a one-to-one technology initiative,” pointed out Anderson.
The grant provided Hamline with the money to have a technology coach and access to a consultant from ISTE, and hourly stipends for teachers to collaborate and learn with the tech coach.
Teachers also participated in a full-day virtual conference and attended many webinars. They could also attend the ISTE national conference.
“The goal for professional development was to meet individual teacher needs to customize and personalize the experiences,” observed Anderson.
He added, “The professional development helped teachers to integrate technology into every subject during the school day.”
“I’m so excited to continue the virtual training sessions and learn more that I can share with my students,” Smith said.
WHAT DOES 2014-15 HOLD?
This next year, Hamline will focus on refining and sharing its learning with each other and the district, according to Anderson.
“SPPS is going to personalize learning for students by implementing a one-to-one environment over the next two years,” Anderson remarked. “I hope the great things we started in year one will be extended in year two — giving kids the ability to work at their ‘just right’ level during most of the day.”
For more information about the Verizon Foundation’s VILS program, visit http://www.verizonfoundation.org/our-focus/.