Week one of a new school year – check! If you’re back-to-school with students, I hope your year is off to a fantastic start. This will be year four of 1:1 iPads for my students and me, and I still feel like I have a lot to learn. I love how having access to technology empowers my students and me, but also keeps the learner hat firmly in place on each of our heads. There will ALWAYS be a new tool and a better way of doing things, so we’re committed to learning together for the long haul.
This year has had a different start for me than prior years. In the past, we have had “iPad Roll-Outs” several weeks into school. That was a HUGE bummer, because getting to know students’ mathematical strengths and weaknesses through non-tech tasks had been so inefficient. And… nothing says downer like giving a paper-pencil pre-test during the first week of school – blah!
Well, not so this year! The majority of my students took advantage of the opportunity to KEEP their school-issued iPads over the summer, and have had them from Day 1 of school. Additionally, most of the students who did not opt to keep their school iPads have personal phones, so most students who did not have access to school iPads yet were still able to take part in class activities.
We’ve been working through foundational ideas, like number properties and order of operations, and using tech tools for class tasks and homework has been so valuable. I have never started a school year knowing so much about my students’ prior knowledge. Many students have had homework nightly in ThatQuiz. They crave the feedback. They want to know what the class average was. We’ve used ThatQuiz homework to practice AFTER a review lesson has occurred. We’ve used ThatQuiz homework to pre-assess BEFORE a review lesson took place… then we duplicated the quiz AFTER the lesson, took it again, and celebrated our progress.
And no one seems to care that none of this is going in a gradebook. We are focused on learning. We are focused on growth. At first, the question, “Is this for a grade?” happened often. Now, they aren’t even asking about that. They just want to know how they did, how the other classes did, and, when given the chance to try again, if they did better.
I am swimming in feedback and data, and it’s helping shape my teaching, communicate with students, and with parents.
How important is it to have access to devices on Day 1 of school? Now that I’ve experienced it, for me it’s HUGELY high priority.