We’re Engaged!

Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important. -Bill Gates

Engagement…a critical factor in learning and achievement. When kids are engaged, they are creating, thinking, analyzing, problem solving and collaborating. Recent visitors to our classroom from another part of our state came to see the iPads in action. They saw us during our morning literacy center time with students moving in and out of small groups. Students were involved in both partner and independent activities all around the classroom. Some activities involved iPads and some did not. The visitors comments were, “These children are SO engaged! They are managing their own learning and they know what they are doing. It all seems so seamless.”


Those comments are great! We work very hard to accomplish this; however, it doesn’t happen on its own. Engagement in any learning task depends on the carefully orchestrated classroom environment. You simply can’t place an iPad in a student’s hands and hope it all works out. What visitors see is a result of daily instruction, modeling, guided practice and gradual release of responsibility. My students know how to do many things, but more importantly, they know why they are doing them. Flexible grouping within the classroom and collaborative coaching are also necessary. My job is more important than ever! I can’t just “Skype in”.

High expectations and classroom rigor, along with incorporating appropriate iPad apps, are yielding dramatic increases in achievement in our at-risk students. Narrow curricula and rigid instructional practices hinder these particular students from excelling.

My kindergarten students will graduate from high school in 2024. Lack of student engagement is a major factor in student drop out. The use of iPads as a technology tool, personalizes student learning and addresses learning styles. They are visual, auditory, and tactile. With 52% of children under the age of 8 using iPods, iPads, smart phones and other digital media, it’s obvious what holds their attention.

We are working diligently to provide our students with a variety of experiences that are engaging and meaningful across all subject areas. The great thing about watching my students in action is that to them, it’s no big deal. When I tell them we have visitors coming to see all the great things they are doing, they just shrug it off as if to say, “Why all the fuss? Isn’t everyone using iPads?”

It’s a question worth considering.

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5 thoughts on “We’re Engaged!

  1. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your blog and the sharing about how you and your students are using iPads in your classroom. There are two schools in our division that are looking at one-to-one with iPads and your posts have given us much to think, discuss and reflect about. They fill us with excitement about all the potential and possibilities for our students.

    Thank you,
    Donna

    • Thanks so much for your kind comments. We are thrilled at the progress of our students and are excited that iPads are becoming so much more “on the radar” of various schools. Good luck!

  2. My school is going 1:1 ipads in the next week or so! I also teach kindergarten. I am excited and nervous too! I am SO glad I found your blog – I am learning so much from you! Thank you!

  3. We are going 1:1 next year after having 4 ipads this year in kindergarten. Any advice on how to plan for this transition? Percentage of centers using ipads? How do you keep kids accountable to stay on app and not just do whatever?

    • Congrats on going 1:1. If you go back to my beginning of the year blog posts, I talk about how to introduce them in small groups and then gradually move out to whole groups and then using at centers. It’s definitely a process and you have to spend a lot of time front loading procedures.
      As for keeping kids in apps, again front loading procedures is critical and you have to be ready to take the iPad away if a child isn’t following directions. My kids are tattle tails and will throw anybody under the bus so it’s not ever an issue for me.

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