Filed underIndependent Schools
Yesterday, we related how Kathleen Sipes, the President of Mt. Carmel School in Middle River, is hoping to expand the use of mobile learning devices in the classroom. The school currently has twenty-five Samsung Galaxy Tabs it is using to teach science in its middle and upper schools, as well as SAT prep courses. Ms. Sipes hopes to purchase another hundred units by the beginning of the 2012/2013 school year.
Even though the software loaded on the devices is geared toward science courses, one of the upper school teachers found a way to use the Galaxy Tab to prepare her students for life after graduation. In an exercise that should be a standard lesson plan for all high schoolers, she used the web capabilities of the Galaxy Tab to have her students pick a career they would like to pursue in their adult lives.
Based on the projected annual salary that career would provide, she had them find a car they could afford, then moved them into the daunting task of searching for housing that would fit into their budgets. As one might expect, some students had to downsize their auto choices. We found this little exercise refreshing for a couple of reasons.
First off, teaching students how to survive the practical world once they leave the nest is something most educators overlook. The second reason was that we observed this class right after the student’s lunch period. Students, like those of us in the workforce, usually experience a general feeling of lethargy when returning to their studies after lunch. Out of the twenty-five students we observed, only two appeared to be suffering from post lunch disorder(PLD). (We have names and acronyms for everything else, why not this?) The rest of the students were busy asking questions, seeking out places to live, and generally enthusiastic about the whole process. Not what one would expect of high school juniors in the period just after lunch.
Ms. Sipes also pointed out that she has noticed an increased willingness by the students to become more involved in forming groups to solve problems, and help other students who are having difficulty with the subject matter. She also likes the capability the devices posses allowing teachers to instantly grade quizzes and tests using free software available from Edmondo. This allows students to correct their mistakes in real time while the subject matter is still fresh in their minds.
Like Dr. Wilson at Reginald Lewis, Ms. Sipes is hoping to see a measurable bump in SAT scores by her graduating students. Practice SAT results have pointed in that direction.
At the current time, the devices are not allowed to go home with students. If they were however, students and teachers could continue the learning process during non-school hours. Instant communication away from the classroom could bring a wealth of opportunities to each student.
The future of education is here now. How we choose to embrace this new way of learning will depend on how much governments, school boards, public corporations, and private citizens are willing to invest in the future of our children. We talk incessantly about how committed we are to education. Now is the time to see who is really serious, and who is just giving lip service. Kathleen Sipes is serious; are you?