Sunday, April 26, 2015

Why 1:1 Technology Matters

I teach at a school where 83% of our students are low income. All my kids have iPads (that they take home). And we are all Kinders. These three things in isolation are not all that unique, but when you put them together, our classroom and school becomes one of a kind.

Putting technology into the hands of young, inquisitive, active minds, who would otherwise may have limited access to it, opens the doors of differentiation, project based learning, extending the school day, instant engagement, and increased home-school connection.

I have recently read on a few forums posts where teachers have asked, "Why does technology matter?" or "We are looking to gain more technology in our buildings, what are the pros and cons of iPad carts or 1:1 technology?"  There is so much more that goes into it than just a simple "reply." 

Soooo....below are the five components of integrating technology (for all grade levels) than I find extremely important: differentiation, project based learning, extending school day, instant engagement, and increased home-school connection. I am by no means an expert at integrating technology, but I love the opportunities it presents to my classroom and have explored many aspects by trial and error. Since I am most familiar with iPads, I will mainly talk about those devices. Here we go...

We all have students who have never been with a group of children before and those who have been in school for two years as well as attending all the museums in the city a million times.  Putting all these students into the same class presents quite the quandary for teachers. Enter iPads. Each student can have individualized apps that fit their learning profile. Once the app is no longer needed, move it to a folder for "old apps." Ok, that's easy, what else?

How about uploading all those PDFs, teacher created materials, worksheets, pictures, etc to the iPads for students to edit? I can upload 2nd grade material to Maggie's iPad and letter tracing to Emily's iPad. They can then work (write on, fill in, edit, draw) and submit work back to me - in class, homework, you name it. I use Showbie for this, but you can also use Schoology, Google Classroom, etc. More on how I use Showbie here.

Your kids can also record themselves reading for reading responses, research through YouTubeKids using a voice search, compare work samples, and watch center instructions. 

And YES! My 5- and 6-year-olds do all of this! Does it take training and time? Of course. But the results are exponential. 

Project Based Learning
Above, I touched on research through YouTubeKids. We just finished a unit on the rainforest. After the kids did a graphic organizer on Showbie, they went to the YouTubeKids app to research rainforest animals. Can anyone spell those words correctly? Not they press the microphone next to the search bar and voila - voice activated research. Oh, and I should mention, it was one of my little ones who figured that out. :o)

In K, it's a little harder, but for older grades, you can give your students a task, give them app choices, have the work flow (Showbie) set for for submission, and you are off!

Students can create a portfolio of resources on their iPad, and share out the finished product using Air Play or uploading their project to Showbie, Schoology, or Google Drive. 

Extending the School Day
The driving force for our district being 1:1 technology is to extend the school day. The entire district hovers around 80% low income families - hard working parents with multiple shifts or night shifts, kids spending time at extended families' homes, packed schedules - you know, such is life. Giving our students a tool to take with them at the end of the school day that can be used wherever they go to promote learning, is priceless. Our students have textbooks, trade books, reading and math programs, writing tools, all at their disposal on one device. They have it for weekends, sick days, etc. Which brings me to the next topic...

Home-School Connection
Not only do I use Showbie for submission of work, but I can message my students and receive messages from parents looking for clarification on work. Sure, they can e-mail me too, but messaging through a platform on the iPad allows the students to do it too, so that they can also take ownership of their education. We use Remind (a text messaging service) on the iPads too. The app is on the iPad, I send out a reminder or note I want the parents and kids to see. The kids get the reminder on their iPad, and parents get it sent to their phone. The parents cannot text you back, so it is kind of a one-way street to disseminate information, but that's why I have the message function in Showbie. 

Instant Engagement
Let's be honest, iPads make things fun. Why do adults buy iPads? For the apps, accessibility, the small, compact nature of the device and to available via social media. Why do kids like iPads? To have ownership, to pay games on apps, and to stay current with friends and family. iPads are highly desirable and many companies have excellent resources for choosing apps and implementing an iPad classroom.

Thoughts to Consider
Going 1:1 is a HUGE task. What works for us-each teacher has a iPad cart, each cart having its own ID. We check in devices at the beginning of the year and out at the end. Damages are assessed by the principal and students are in charge of covering a percentage of the repairs. 

My district does both personal sight visits and virtual sight visits, which is an awesome way for both in district teachers to learn from each other and interested parties outside of the district to get a feel for what goes on here. 

If you are looking for helpful apps we use, I will be posting about that soon - didn't want to add much more length to this post!

Anyone have suggestions for using tech in K? I would love to hear how you are using iPads in your classroom!


  1. What a awesome description of how technology enhances your teaching. You are a great teacher.

  2. Thanks Jane! It is a pleasure to work in such an innovative place! :o)

  3. This is great! What did you use for recording the kids' reading?


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