The Pathways to Future movement at Avonworth encompasses many important components, including distributing a computer to each of our students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Students and teachers in grades K-3 will be issued iPads and students in grades 4-12 will utilize Chromebooks. As you know, technology integration has increased in schools over the last decade or so, and Avonworth has been no exception. In fact, Avonworth has always made a significant investment in technology, both in hardware and professional development. Taking the next step to a 1:1 environment just makes sense. Check out this article from Edweek http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/05/18/1-to-1-laptop-initiatives-boost-student-scores-study.html
Over the last three years, our schools, especially the middle and high schools, have been using Google Apps for Education. These programs provide students and teachers with many opportunities to collaborate. It has been interesting to watch the usage of Google Apps catch on with teachers. As the interest has increased, so has the request for more Chromebooks for use in classrooms. High school teacher, Mr. Doug Pastore noted, “Google Classroom impacts the learning environment in many positive ways such as organization and collaboration. I share on Google Classroom the guidelines and rubrics with the students, and in turn, they work together to generate a product for evaluation. All of this creativity can be found under one roof, the Google Classroom.”
Teachers desire to incorporate new ways of teaching using technology. Many teachers use flipped learning, as well as other programs such as Khan Academy that offer access to information in a way that is nontraditional. Correspondingly, I want all students to have equal access to technology. At the end of last school year, we began talking with students and found that although many had computers at home, some were vying for usage time with a brother or sister and sometimes, even mom and dad. Others didn’t have a computer at all.
A computer is simply a tool. Providing a shiny, new computer to students doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to automatically learn more. It doesn’t make much of a difference if we just use computers to type reports, or to browse the internet. However, when students are able to personalize their education by using various applications to research topics, participate in webinars, customize multimedia presentations, access online simulations, and develop opportunities to showcase good digital citizenship, students gain valuable knowledge, skills, and experiences that do impact their learning. Mrs. Becky Filiaggi, a kindergarten teacher piloting 1:1 iPads in her classroom states, “Having 1:1 iPads in my kindergarten classroom has brought education to life and served as a foundation to begin the transformation of the way 21st century learning appears in the classroom. My kindergarten students are given endless opportunities to collaborate, communicate, and create with iPads. No longer do they always need to document their work with paper-and-pencil tasks; they create and share through pictures and videos. The iPads have also promoted ownership of student learning and family engagement through electronic portfolios.”
As we are implementing this 1:1 initiative, we will spend significant time training teachers to utilize computers in their classrooms in a way that supports a transformation in teaching and learning. However, there are also times when we need to put the computers away and take an unplugged approach to learning. Computers are not a panacea. Rest assured that we will use these tools in a way that makes sense. We will also be facilitating training for parents and students as we roll out this effort next fall. Included in these trainings will be important information about the care and proper usage of the computers, as well as insurance options for students who wish to take their computers home.
I am excited about the addition of these tools, and I hope you are too!
Until next time…
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