I came away from the annual ACTEM conference this year with questions about where we are going in Maine with personalized learning (Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning was published in early 2011 and sent to all Superintendents). The schools that have been piloting standards-based learning and 1:1 iPads are modeling an ungraded, individualized approach to elementary education that is far from the more traditional, whole group instruction going on in most schools. What is best for students? I wonder what direction we will be going in the majority of districts that have not been included in the pilot programs.
Based on the powerful learning opportunities I heard about in some sessions I couldn't help but wish for more iPads and a 1:1 scenario for our early learners, perhaps even through 4th grade. I'm trying to figure out if that is a proposal that we should be putting forward as we think about the next few years of planning and K-12 expenditures for technology. In the meantime I want to push us to make the most use of the the 1:1 laptops we have in the 3rd and 4th grade classrooms.
What does that look like? It looks like using the computers to record reading, take pictures and videos, having kids draw, using online tools like WeVideo for collaborative video, Voicethread, Animoto, and Comic creators. Teachers can use Kahoot!, Socrative and Google Forms for interactions between teachers and students on their laptops.
Upcoming team meetings and times in classrooms are important times for conversations with teachers about these expanded ways of using the laptops. We have an energetic set of teachers who are all using all of our technology resources as part of their instructional process. A challenge I see is putting more of the autonomy on the students to show us how they choose to learn and then to share that learning through writing, drawing, video or whatever medium they find best for expressing their ideas.