Technology is an incredible resource for learning. It connects us to people all over the world, it enables us to find answers to our questions with the click of a button, and it is versatile enough to be used by students of varying skill levels.

I have been teaching in a 1:1 classroom for four years at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. We started in 5th grade when my colleague got a Khan Academy grant to purchase 12 Chromebooks to supplement the Chromebooks our school provided. We then did a Donor’s Choose project to purchase the remaining computers. We have 1:1 Chromebooks for each student in 4th and 5th grade, and we’re introducing 1:1 for 3rd grade this year.

Within our 1:1 framework, we start by planning our units and lessons with the International Baccalaureate (IB) framework in mind, thinking about how our students will learn best. If it makes the most sense to use the Chromebooks to research or take notes, then that’s what we’ll do, but we also make sure that we have a variety of learning experiences each day. We are a highly collaborative school and 1:1 has helped us tremendously. Our PARCC scores have risen each year since we introduced 1:1 in 5th grade.

These are My Tech Essentials for working in a 1:1 classroom environment:

1. Chromebook: You can’t have a 1:1 classroom without devices. We love the Google Chromebooks because they are easy for our students to use, and we can access all kinds of apps through the Google Play Store. We share resources through platforms such as Google Classroom. (Our students have a Google Classroom in both English and Chinese). We are also able to have our students type weekly essays, and we can give them feedback much more quickly than in the past.

2. Kids Discover Online: Digital curriculum like Kids Discover helps our students explore a range of topics that relate to our IB Units of Inquiry. We have units about conflict, water, human migration, industry, and chemistry. The Discover Maps make it easy for students to make connections across different areas of study, and to explore their own interests. Kids Discover also has a single-sign on feature that can be used with Google accounts.

3. Go Guardian: With a device in the hands of each student, we want to be sure they’re staying on-task and not wandering around the internet. The Go Guardian system sends us email alerts if a student is on an unapproved site. We also have students sign a technology agreement and use the IB’s learner profile to emphasize being principled online.

Students are already using so much technology at home in their free time, and they are incredibly creative with it. Through our 1:1 implementation, I have realized how important it is to use technology in a thoughtful way to enhance learning and to prepare students for the future.

About the Author:

Sarah Harris is a 5th-grade teacher at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School in Washington, DC.


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