Friday, January 13, 2012

Changing The Plan!

It has been an exciting 6 weeks, and our collection of 9 iPads has even grown to 20! I have experimented with different strategies to use the devices to actively engage my students in learning, and it has been an enjoyable process. I don't want to take anything away from my positive technology accomplishments, but I really don't feel all that revolutionary. After doing some thinking, I decided that in order to truly transform student use of this technology, I needed to send the iPads home with my kids! In the ideal situation, my classroom would have a 1:1, but there aren't enough for everyone, so how could I make this happen?

As a teacher, I already make a huge effort to make learning relevant, motivating, and fun for all kids, and technology is definitely a part of my plan for everyone! Unfortunately, every year, there are students who have great potential, but school, even in a differentiated classroom, just isn't maximizing their learning! Perhaps given some individualized instruction using an iPad device, I might be able to facilitate an increase their achievement.

With the introduction of RTI (Response To Intervention), and the true desire to meet students at every level, my teaching partner and I decided we should start by looking over the data to determine who our “ipad kids” would be. We divided out our students based on test scores and found that most students were getting the extra help they needed either in the regular classroom or with special school services. Unfortunately, we have a small group of kids that scored below district benchmark on their AIMSweb math or reading tests that didn't qualify for extra programming. We hypothesized that these kids had greater abilities that just haven't been tapped by school as usual, even in our classrooms that are sometimes considered - unusual!  These kids were your proverbial “falling between the cracks students.”

We developed a plan. We would give this group of students access to the iPads 24/7. My teaching partner would work with the math students, and I would work with the reading students. We would meet with the students twice a week during our 30 minute resource period, teach them virtually via the flipped classroom model, and give students access to educational resources currently unavailable to them. Finally! I feel like we were on the fast track to innovation!

When I started this blog, I set a goal to use the iPad as a cutting edge learning device to actively engage kids and to use it in such a way that was not an extension of what kids can already do with a pencil and paper. I believe that combined with the right philosophy of learning and teaching the iPad has the power to transform the way kids learn. As a teacher, I have been inspired to embark on something new, to become better at my craft, to move beyond my comfort zone to do something that could impact even more kids. It is a lofty goal, and we will measure our success in 14 weeks to determine if we have made a positive impact on the achievement of our students with this new and innovate method of teaching. If this project works, we can make the case for using ipads with even more students next year!