ESOL Teacher, Joppa View Elementary
We are approaching half a year of using 1:1 technology in Grades 1-3 at Joppa View, and it has been fascinating to be a part of such an ambitious and exciting adventure. As an ESOL teacher, I am excited to use the laptop/tablet devices in my small groups, to see how the differentiation and even more individualized instruction the devices offer can change my EL students’ perspectives on how much they control their own learning. It has been wonderful to be able to set websites before my students that host a plethora of e-books organized by category, and to have my students select the topic of the e-book to be read. Students have gone from surprise that they were being allowed to select the topic of the day’s reading to great eagerness to engage with their readings, and subsequent closer, higher-level reading. This is the power of a learner-centered classroom.
On top of this, the ability to use the devices to instantly define new vocabulary words, visually or verbally, not to mention instantly learn how to pronounce these words, is invaluable. I can’t pretend there aren’t hurdles ahead: I was talking with two second grade students today about whether they preferred using the devices to read the Wonders curriculum. One said she preferred reading the Wonders textbooks, because the devices sometimes didn’t work. The student was right: any technological change this ambitious is going to come with technical difficulties. The other student, however, said she preferred using the devices, because the ability to instantly define and pronounce words in the text made up for any technical problems. It was heartening to hear.
This is a major transition year in BCPS, and there is definitely more work to be done before all this new technology is running as efficiently as it can. Regardless, I am very excited about how much potential there is in placing this technology in the hands of our students, and am eager to see what happens next.