I recently attended the Model Schools Conference in Orlando, Florida. This conference focused on schools across the nation that, at one time, had been labeled as failing. As a result of innovative planning, forward thinking, and unique collaborations, these schools have turned their failing schools into MODELS OF SUCCESS.
One of the sessions that I attended was presented by Eastern Elementary School in Greentown, Indiana. This school focused on literacy and leveraged powerful “mobile devices” such as iPads, netbooks, smartphones, iPods, and other digital devices that many students provided from home to access the internet at school.
The students began using these devices not only in the classroom, but voluntarily at home to enhance reports, homework, and to research deeper into subjects that they were working on in class. The teachers began noticing how the quality of the work that the students were submitting was much richer in curricular vocabulary as well as better scores on weekly exams. The students could write in-depth about a concept that had been researched as well as discuss this in class. As a result, student test scores soared in nearly every subject area.
The school provided the wireless internet but maintained strict controls on the sites that the students could and could not visit on their mobile devices. What a concept -- students are already armed with computers in their hands daily, but some educators feel threatened that these devices will “distract” the students within their classes.
In a time where money for classrooms is tight, I am hoping school districts might reconsider allowing students to use their smartphones as a tool in the classroom. Because, that’s all textbooks, pencils, paper, computers, and mobile devices are -- TOOLS for us to use.
There was a blog recently on cisco.com and how a school in Houston, Texas decided to transform their school by allowing students to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Please read, Schools Plug Into BYOD: Mobile Devices Transform Learning.
Parents, also check out this article in The Oklahoman with advice on summer phone use.
-Melodie Fulmer, Executive Director, Parent and Community Engagement