South Berwyn School District 100 recently embarked on an initiative to provide all students, kindergarten through 8th grade, with a wireless device for use both at school and at home. Now in our second year of full implementation, our students and teachers are becoming more and more innovative with ways to merge technology with the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Throughout this process, one benefit has become increasingly obvious. Technology expands opportunities for student choice and engagement, allowing them to move into the driver’s seat instead of the teacher–even in reading!
During a recent walk-through, I stopped into a 5th grade (iPad) classroom during their literacy block and I was blown away by what I saw. Students were sprawled across the room with a number of students lying on the floor and others sitting comfortably at their tables. Anchor charts were posted around the room, serving as reminders of what good readers think and do.
As I leaned in to chat with a few students, I learned that this was their independent reading time when they get to choose any “just right” book. Some choose to have a traditional book in their hands while others choose to access a book through myON or the public library. No matter what text format they chose, students were recording their thinking as they were reading either with pencil/paper or using an app on their iPads.
After a quick glance across the room, it was evident that students were engaged. Students had choice in the text they were reading, how they would access the text, and how they would demonstrate their understanding of the text. As I walked out, I could not help but think about how dramatically different this classroom experience was from classrooms I would have walked through five years ago.
Gone are the days of classrooms full of students reading the same text (regardless of their interest or reading level) with teachers dictating how students must demonstrate their learning. Adding technology to a literacy block has expanded opportunities for student choice and, in turn, fosters student engagement. Our students would not like it any other way.