By Frances Bradburn
Everyday Education 

A Teacher's View Of 1:1 Initiative

 


In the fall of 2012, the Golden LEAF Foundation awarded a grant to the Transylvania County Schools (TCS) to implement a 1:1 teaching and learning initiative in both the Brevard and Rosman middle schools. (1:1 means that every teacher and student has a computing device for his or her personal use 24/7 throughout the school year.) This grant was based in part on the success that the school system had experienced after introducing a 1:1 project in both high schools. Over time the schools and TCS technology department have compiled data to evaluate all these initiatives, but sometimes the real assessment of a project is most evident when we ask teachers and students if the money has been well spent. Vera Cubero, Brevard Middle School’s instructional technology facilitator (ITF), gives us just such an assessment:

“Transylvania County’s middle and high school students have received one of the most worthwhile and life-changing gifts the past few years with the 1:1 computer initiative. Innovative, hard-working, and forward-thinking administrators and teachers have taken hold of this technology and have used it not only to substitute or augment, but to modify and redefine the education of Transylvania County’s students.

“The daily integration of technology through the 1:1 initiative, the implementation of Google Apps for Education, the use of the Moodle learning management system, and the inclusion of a nearly infinite amount of readily available, web-based applications redefines education in Transylvania County, daily allowing students to use the tools and techniques of a 21st century workplace in their educations.

“No longer is the student’s educational experience confined within the school building, nor is their access to information confined to the school textbooks or library. Students are able to access the most relevant and current information that the world has to offer through guided Internet research. Students can now collaborate with one another on projects from anywhere with the use of Google Apps for Education. Technology is also being used to level the playing field for students who struggle with reading and writing through text to speech apps that will read for them or type from their voice, among other things.

“Brevard Middle School has many teachers who have been eagerly finding and integrating technology to improve student education for years. In 2010-2011, seventh grade social studies teachers received a cart of Netbooks to use to pilot the 1:1 program. They created their course online in the Moodle learning management system and began revamping the curriculum to make it more accessible, relevant, student-centered, and engaging. The 1:1 pilot continued the original pilot in 2011-2012 in both eighth grade language arts and social studies, and in 2012-13 in eighth grade social studies. What began as ‘augmentation’ of the learning process transformed with time and effort into true ‘redefinition’ of education as students in these classes were able to access their entire course and all assignments from anywhere; discuss issues and ideas with students both in their classrooms and outside of their classrooms in virtual discussion forums; collaborate with each other to research, evaluate, and create projects and solutions from anywhere they had Internet access; and develop their problem-solving and teamwork skills that are so valuable in today’s job market.

“Since students all received Samsung Chromebooks from a Golden Leaf grant last year, the seamless integration of technology into the educational experience at Brevard Middle School is the norm rather than the exception. These are a few of the many examples:

• Seventh grade social studies have created paper craft videos on the czars of Russia;

• Eighth grade social studies have created animated videos of the battles of the Pacific in WWII, created interactive timelines of the events that led to the Revolutionary War, and participated in realistic, decision-making simulations of American history;

• Science classes have participated in virtual labs and dissections;

• Struggling readers are able to record themselves reading and submit the files to the teacher to help improve their reading and speaking skills;

• Struggling readers can read along with their teacher who has recorded herself reading the novels they read and made the files accessible to them on their Moodle course;

• Spanish students are able to use an online application to record and listen to themselves speaking in Spanish to improve their verbal mastery of the language;

• 6th grade English language arts students wrote poems and made videos of them speaking their poems, and then were able to record comments on each other’s work;

• teachers can get instant feedback as they interact with students in online assessment environments so that they know instantly who does and does not understand concepts and can help them correct misconceptions right away — without having to wait to grade papers;

• several students with severe disabilities were recently provided with tablet computers to engage them and demonstrate their learning and are adapting remarkably well;

• and the list goes on and on.

“Getting students engaged is always half the battle. Once they are engaged, their learning really has no bounds. Teachers all over the building are embracing the new technology and stepping out and trying new ways to transform the education of their students. Our students, who are digital natives, born and raised in the technology boom, are more excited and engaged in their learning than ever before.”

(Vera Cubero is the instructional technology facilitator at the Brevard Middle School.)

(Frances Bryant Bradburn, former director of Instructional Technology at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, is currently working with schools and school systems interested in 1:1 implementation through a partnership between the North Carolina New Schools Project and the Golden LEAF Foundation.)

 
 

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