Why go 1:1?

2015-05-27 14.44.16This is my second year piloting a personalized device classroom in fifth grade. As with all experiences, no two years are the same. This second year has brought new challenges, new a-ha moments, and new success stories. I enjoyed the freedoms last year of taking risks and experimenting with innovative approaches to using personalized devices. A second year provided me with more insight on what instructional strategies work and how better to manage 28 student iPads in a safe and positive environment. My biggest takeaway from two years of piloting this initiative is realizing the overwhelming impact personalized devices can make on every child’s success in school.

Consider the possibility that one day students reading two years below grade level could make so much progress that he or she passes the SOL reading assessment while falling head over heels for books. Imagine what it would be like if students with ADHD could keep up seamlessly with school work and become an equal among their peers. Or, dream of the day when a student who has a learning disability and is also a second language student goes from being silent in class to becoming a model and teacher to his or her own classmates. These “impossibles” are in fact realities in my classroom. These “impossibles” represent three of 53 students I have been able to impact on a level that was never possible before given the chance to design my own one-to- o!ne learning environment.

Simple assistive technologies such as the Reminders app, Dragon Dictation, and the camera has helped my students stay organized and easily access text or content in class. Tools that allow me to create and assess flipped lessons such as iMovie, Padlet, iTunesU, Doceri, and much more, have leveled the playing field for our struggling learners and second language students. Then you have platforms that offer students access to learning communities, creating a genuine audience for their work including, but not limited to KidBlog, Twitter, Instagram, and Schoology. To top it off, my students’ access to multi-literacies and knowledge has exploded because of the devices. Thanks to News-O-Matic, DogoNews, Wonderopolis, Twitter, Moldiv, and Canva, we have learned to read and write engagingly by toggling between print, digital, short-form, video, and graphic texts. These tools and instructional approaches have helped mold learning in a unique way that works best for each individual child.

I no longer have to worry about motivating students to do work. I no longer worry about not knowing how to support or challenge all of my students. The personalized devices have given me a chance to do something for my children that I wish someone could have done for me when I was in school. That is the chance to feel successful and capable by not being expected to conform to the norms of what we define as “school”, but by being different and just being “you”. When used carefully and effectively, one-to-one iPad devices open locked doors for all of our students and guarantees that our children are future-ready no matter what lies ahead.