In a class of 28 students, finding ways to reach everyone at his or her level can be a challenge. At Harriet Bishop Elementary, teachers are using iPads combined with a reading program called Raz-Kids to do just that … and with some very positive results.
Harriet Bishop has just 30 iPads for student use right now, so staff members need to be strategic about how and when they are used. Most often, classes use them during what’s called “Power Half-Hour,” a set time each day when students individual learning needs are addressed.
Third grade teacher Cheryl Haberlack says students are enthused about using the iPads, but the biggest payback is that they allow for individualized learning, especially when combined with Raz-Kids.
Haberlack describes Raz-Kids as a huge online book room where students can listen to and read books that are at the right level for them. On the other end, teachers get instant feedback about which books their students have read and how they performed on short assessments afterward. Students can even make an audio recording of themselves reading and send it to the teacher.
“They love it and they are good at it,” Haberlack said of students using the iPads, “and then you know they are reading at their levels.”
This initial project, combining iPads with Raz-Kids, is an action research project as part of a program throughout District 191 studying how technology can improve student achievement. The results from this year’s work will help inform decisions about what types of technology to buy and how to use them in the future.
Harriet Bishop enrichment teacher Joe Risteau says that, based on results so far, the project has been successful.
“We have some hard data to show that students achievement is improving,” Risteau said, adding that the project also hoped to increase engagement levels among students. “It’s more difficult to measure student engagement. It’s more anecdotal, but you can see it in the classroom. You can hear a pin drop [when students are reading on the iPads].”
Along with action research projects from around District 191, Risteau and other members of the Harriet Bishop technology cohort will present their results at a sharing session on March 7 at 4 p.m. in the Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Pkwy in Burnsville. The session will take place in the Great Room on the building’s upper level.
You can learn more about technology in the classroom online at http://www.isd191.org.