A Grade 7 Glenmerry Elementary School teacher has taken advantage of laptops in the classroom and is allowing her students to work independently on daily tasks.
Still sticking with B.C. curriculum, Jane Jewitt frees up at least two hours each day where students can work independently, using the mobile computers as tools to access information.
Lesson requirements are printed on the board for students to view and decide how to start their day.
“I actually like it a lot because now whenever I want to read, I can and whenever I want to work on French, I do,” said Wyatt Soukeroff. “I used to like school just averagely but now I like it a lot.”
After School District 20 purchased laptops or iPads for its schools this fall, Glenmerry parents raised enough money to buy a few more devices to make a class set of 19.
Early on there were some glitches but with technical support the school is now delving into wireless freedom and personalized learning in Jewitt’s class.
“I’m trying to give students a little more say over what they learn and when they learn it,” she said. “Partly it works because it’s natural for children to be curious, it’s not natural for them to sit still and only be curious about ‘Gee, what is she going to say next?’”
SD20’s Denise Flick, who supports teachers on curriculum, circulated the classroom last week to observe Jewitt’s new experiment.
Jewitt has her students completing self-assessments, which allows her to check off learning outcomes and follow a timeline during her new experiment.
“If I feel like we’re falling behind and they don’t know as much as they would in a traditional way, then I have to go back to more traditional lessons until I can figure it out but so far, in fact, their skills are better.”
Jewitt says this is not the first she’s heard of teachers giving older elementary kids more responsibility and said as the province moves away from specialized classrooms it’s important for teacher to hone in on their students.
“When I try to give a whole lesson where everybody has to learn the same thing at the same time, there’s maybe four or five kids who needed that information in that way at that time,” she said. “Some of the others say they worry because they feel like it’s moving past them too fast so it increases their anxiety and they can’t learn as much while other kids are bored and tune out and end up missing the one key point.”
Kayla Miller no longer worries about how she is going to complete all of her projects on time and thinks managing her own timetable is preparing her for high school.
Her friend Brittnay Odland agrees.
“Before I didn’t want to come to school and be rushed and now I can take my time and do it right,” she said.
Though Jewitt was already encouraging her kids to be independent with their studies, the introduction of laptops opened up new possibilities.
When logging on at once proved inadequately slow, the concept of free time for kids to choose what to tackle was introduced.