One iPad is better than none

While K-12 schools around the country search for funding to provide iPads to every student, senior elementary education major Nancy Davidson has learned that even one can make a huge difference in the classroom.

Davidson, a student teacher at Caleb’s Creek Elementary School in Kernersville last semester, used her iPad in many ways, including assessing fourth graders’ knowledge of division and teaching interactive lessons on moon phases.

“Anything new and different is engaging for kids,” said Davidson. “Tracking student growth through apps, pictures and videos became more efficient for me and more interesting for the children. Using the iPad in class started as a luxury, but quickly became a normal part of their learning process.”

The results of her experience are consistent with new research presented by Assistant Professor of Education Kristin Redington Bennett in the December/January issue of Learning & Leading With Technology, the magazine of the International Society for Technology in Education.

“Because they’re truly part of the digital generation, Wake Forest’s pre-service teachers and the K-12 students they teach have a natural aptitude for tablet devices,” said Bennett. “Our goal is to train our elementary education candidates to graduate from our program with the skills and fluency in the use of mobile technology to support teaching and learning. This has allowed many of our graduates to be leaders in their schools even as a first-year teacher.”

Though iPads can cost more than $500 with 3G access and a budget for apps, Davidson and Bennett advise school administrators not to discount the device because of its price because even one tablet allowed teachers to design creative lesson plans tailored to individual learners.

After graduation, Davidson plans to use her iPad to help close the achievement gap in rural and public schools through Teach for America.

“Higher performing students can practice their math, science and reading skills through games on the iPad while I work one-on-one with struggling students,” Davidson said. “Having just one iPad for small group work can make sure students get the individual attention they need to succeed.”

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