Archive for February, 2012

Minnesota District Issues Ipads to All Students – and Reports Tremendous Success

As the popularity of Apple technology soars, educators are catching on – and harnessing the younger generation’s fascination with anything technological to improve classroom learning.  One district in Minnesota has now issued Ipads to all its students, and the benefits of doing so have been tremendous.  Students are more engaged during lessons in class, teachers are more easily able to assess difficulties, and issuing Ipads may actually save money long-term on the cost of textbooks.

Sure, there have been problems.  Students are downloading forbidden software; the Ipads are too easily broken.  But schools are coming up with inventive ways of dealing with these issues.  For instance, students who’ve downloaded something without permission have their Ipads wiped of  all non-school related material for a period of weeks  to deter them from doing so again.

It’s a fascinating new twist in the story of technology making life easier, and could radically change the way education is done.  Embracing change is a common denominator of successful businesses.  Why shouldn’t it be for successful school systems, too?

Click here for the full article from eschoolnews. 

Read More

In a fascinating new use of technology, teachers turn learning “upside down”

Technology is becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives, and teachers are learning to harness technology’s potential to help students learn more effectively.

Recent posts have introduced new Iphone and Ipad apps that can add to classroom instruction.   Now teachers are going even further and using technology to completely “invert” the classroom model.

Inverted versus  “traditional” classroom

In a traditional classroom, students listen to a teacher lecture for much of a class period, and are then assigned homework problems to work through at home.  In the inverted classroom, students do their homework in the classroom, and listen to recorded lectures on computers or issued ipods – at home.

In a traditional classroom, students sit and listen passively, and then struggle through homework problems at home without the benefit of a teacher nearby to help.  In the inverted classroom, the passive watching is done on the student’s clock, allowing the student to do practice problems with a teacher present to help work through any difficulties.

What are the advantages of inverting a classroom?

As a teacher, I think this is brilliant.  It forces students to take more ownership of their learning, and to attentively watch the recorded lectures.  But it also provides the student tremendously valuable practice time with a teacher present to help.

Who is using this new model?

This model is being used with much success by teachers like Dan Spencer, a chemistry teacher from Michigan, and James Yoos, the Washington State Teacher of the Year for 2010.  Of the inverted classroom model, Yoos, says that students “must take responsibility for developing what they know. They can’t be passive recipients of knowledge—they must engage in order to succeed in this system.  But that’s what we want for members of our society, isn’t it?”

Read More

What do students want out of education?

What students want out of their academic experience is a rarely asked question.  Instead, we typically ask what we can do to ensure that students meet externally imposed standards such as FCAT benchmarks.  Here are some of the most common things students are seeking in their education:

1.  More technology in the classroom.

Given that our society is becoming more and more technology based, this shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise.

2.  Teachers who are also mentors.

In a fast paced world where parents are often juggling multiple responsibilities, students are looking to teachers to provide support and guidance as they map out their futures.  They want to know that their teachers care personally about them.

3.  Innovation.

The biggest complaint teachers hear is that classes are boring.  Students want to learn in interactive, creative ways, and given the multitude of resources available, including interactive websites and iphone apps, this shouldn’t be too distant a possibility.

4.  Choice.

Students want some autonomy in choosing what classes to take, and they want their voices to be heard in decisions about what classes the school will offer.  Although the importance of core classes cannot be overstated, students want more elective options, and more options within their core requirements.  They also want the freedom of pace to slow down on tougher or more interesting material in a curriculum.

5.  Real-world applications.

Finally, students want coursework whose relevance to their lives and futures is more obvious.  As a tutor, I can’t count the number of times a student has asked me why he needs to know how to graph a sine function or what the unit circle values are.  Students want classes that are geared toward things like financial planning, which have obvious applications in real life.  They also want their teachers to make more of a connection between class material and real-like examples.

Read More