Great Expectations: Closing The Achievement Gap With iPads

Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement. -W. Clement Stone

If you search the internet for technology and educational achievement, you will find a variety of opinions as to whether technology impacts achievement in elementary school.  Having taught school through a veritable technology spectrum that ranges from no classroom technology, to having an Apple IIe with no internet connection and a stack of 5 1/4 floppy disks, to 4  networked Dell Desktops and now iPads for each student, I can say the student motivation with technology has always been higher than without.

I’ve stated before that technology without purpose will not yield desired results.   Schilling and Schilling (1999) capture well the broad idea that expectations are vital to education. … the literature on motivation and school performance in younger school children suggests that expectations shape the learning experience very powerfully. For example, classic studies in the psychology literature have found that merely stating an expectation results in enhanced performance, that higher expectations result in higher performance, and that persons with high expectations perform at a higher level than those with low expectations, even though their measured abilities are equal.

In an earlier post, I shared reading results from the 2010-11 school year.  We used iPads from the end of January until the end of the year.  It was exciting to see such growth.  This year, with only 24 school days remaining, our data is equally exciting.

It is interesting to note that I had 2 students transfer in after Christmas as non-readers.  They are currently reading above grade level.  How is this possible? Systematic teaching in the Workshop Model and the ability to differentiate instruction to meet individual student needs on the iPad is the key.  Student-centric technology is the answer to the One-Size Fits All approach to learning.

The larger debate concerning the effect of technology on student achievement goes on outside our little classroom.  I’m not a statistician nor am I a researcher, but when 100% of my students are going to First Grade reading above grade level 2 years in a row, I would say iPads are an essential part of our learning environment.

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