Technology won’t replace teachers, but teachers who don’t teach with technology will be replaced. -unknown
Last week, our school iPads were replaced. We were very excited to exchange our iPad 2’s for the new iPad Air. Our old iPads served us well but were suffering from frequent app crashes. The replacement took about a week…no small feat when you are talking about over 800 iPads. The excitement over the idea of new iPads was suddenly replaced with the knowledge that we would be without iPads for a few days. My kids quickly realized this and asked, “Um, how will we do our work with no iPads?” I responded, “I’m not sure…maybe we will do some worksheets.” Puzzled, the kids responded with, “What are worksheets?” You see, they had never completed one before.
It was definitely like going back in time and I’m certain I don’t ever want to teach again without having those devices. My students were used to having choices about their day and about demonstrating their learning. I was used to personalizing their learning and serving as a facilitator while they directed themselves. Student-centered and student-directed learning is one of the keys to educational change.
So, now we have our beautiful new devices and the kids immediately went to work. Their work. We have been working on number stories in their math journals. Even though I’m providing the number stories, there is still choice. For example, Sam had 7 buttons. Some were blue and some were yellow. How many of each were there?
One was being a wise-guy, but still got the right number of buttons. By making these number stories open-ended, students have the ability to use multiple pathways to get to the answer. Another student and a partner, worked together to create what we call an “incredible equation”. One of the students was stronger in math (clearly, as he is able to multiply and divide at age 5) and the other was working on grade level. Together they made this:
By letting my students work where they are, and not where a worksheet forces them to be, the sky is the limit. The iPads give my students the freedom to move on, to move up, and to be in charge of their learning.
So, yes, I am thrilled to have our iPads back. We saw first hand the power of the iPad in our classroom. Even though we have only 22 school days remaining, we are going strong to the end!
Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!