January 12, 2011

100 percent...why not?

In a perfect world, 100 percent of teachers would hold 100 percent of their students accountable 100 percent of the time. The ideal educator would get his/her students to achieve 100 percent mastery on all content objectives. Too often this is not a reality in education. Reaching 100 percent is often considered unfeasible. But maybe not when it comes to technology.

Recently, we were given the following directive: work towards getting 100 percent of your students on an ipad in your classroom. Make it content-driven. Make it useful. Make it manageable* (while most of our classes consist of nearly 30 students, teachers have five or less ipads at their disposal). I spent a significant amount of time thinking of how I would ever be able to do this. And of course (since this is the education world we are talking about), the answer came at the most unsuspected, chaotic, disorganized time...

Every Friday, I give my students a vocabulary quiz. By this point in the year, we have established a very clear Friday routine: word quiz, sustained, silent reading, writing time. In order for my students to follow this routine consistently, I had to establish a teacher routine for myself. Therefore, every Thursday, I create the quiz, make/print copies and leave them on my desk so we're all set for Friday. Easy enough. Until...

The copy machine broke. ALL printers were out of ink. Postpone/cancel the quiz? No...there had to be another way. IPADS!

Instead of using paper for quizzes...why not use Ipads? And so...I created a google form for the quiz. I emailed the form to all of my students. I kept my fingers crossed. Will this work?

The following day, I announced the Ipad-quiz news to the class. I've never seen kids so excited to take a test! The best part about it? They were completely, 100 percent engaged and independent. All I had to do was hand the Ipads over...they took care of the rest. 100 percent of students had their hands on an Ipad that day (and now every Friday). Mission accomplished.

Once the quiz routine was set in place, I was able to try other things in my classroom to lead to 100 percent. For example, we recently completed Columbia University's Teachers College "Writing to Learn" unit. During this unit, my students designed and wrote non-fiction guidebooks on global warming. An extensive part of this unit is RESEARCH, a perfect opportunity for Ipad use. All students got a chance to get on an Ipad and research global warming. Many students even emailed me images straight from the Ipad so I could help print them for their books.

I'm looking forward to learning/trying more ways to bring Ipad access to 100 percent of my students. 100 percent...totally possible.

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