Why 1:1

A guest post by Mark Pullen

After 12 years of elementary school teaching with limited access to technology, such as a once-a-week computer lab time and a cart of laptops that came to my room one afternoon per week, I had the chance to teach in a pilot 1:1 classroom my district was creating. With great joy, I received a class set of laptops which were to remain in my room to be used whenever my third-grade students and I needed them. As my second year of teaching in a 1:1 classroom comes to a close, I am now prepared to offer one teacher’s answer to the all-important question: “How has your classroom improved because of 1:1 technology?”

More Differentiation: 1:1 technology allows me to differentiate and even individualize my instruction much more powerfully than ever before. I frequently utilize math websites that adjust the difficulty of each student’s problems based on that child’s previous answers. Even the best tiered lesson, without the help of technology, can’t do that.

The Advantages of EBooks: Although my students do read physical books part of the time as well, reading online allows students to search the text of the book they’re reading (for example, to track character development over time), comment on what they’re reading and read others’ comments in real time, and look up definitions of unknown words immediately.

Going Beyond the Classroom: Constant access to 1:1 technology has expanded my students’ horizons. My students used to have to rely solely on me (and the finite number of books we had in our room) to teach them whatever they wanted to learn. Now students can access all of the world’s knowledge with a quick Google search. If that’s not sufficient, they can (and often do) email their remaining questions to subject matter experts outside our classroom.

Writing for Real Audiences: My students used to write for their classmates and me. Now they often write for a potentially global audience on their blogs.

Student Motivation: Because 1:1 technology has made learning more real to my students, they love to learn all the time! The end of the school day in no way ends their learning – I continue to see my students learning throughout the evening and on the weekends. Whether they are composing their next editorial for our local newspaper on Google Docs or conquering a few extra math levels on IXL.com, the students are typically so inspired to do more that they go above and beyond normal classroom
expectations day after day.

Tech Skills: Although I always use technology to teach content, not just to teach technology, it’s very clear: my students from this year and last year have become far more tech-savvy than the students I had before getting the laptops.

Access to 1:1 technology has revolutionized my classroom, and I would never willingly go back to teaching without it. I believe that every child (no matter what grade level) deserves and would benefit from this kind of unlimited access to technology in the classroom.

About the Author:
Mark Pullen has been an elementary teacher for 13 years, currently teaching third grade in East Grand Rapids, MI. He’s an advocate for classroom technology integration, and writes extensively on that subject on behalf of Worth Ave Group, a leading provider of laptop, tablet computer, and iPad insurance for schools and universities: http://www.worthavegroup.com/education