Madison teachers pilot 1:1 classroom learning environments

Some Madison teachers are piloting this computer-based and self-paced program in their classrooms for the 2018-19 school year.

Sophie Shayne, Staff Reporter

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Madison’s faculty decided last year to integrate the technological aspect of its students’ lives by introducing the 1:1 classroom environment. This new learning environment will change the way classes operate by giving students their own laptops.

The program involves each student receiving a school-issued laptop for the purpose of school work. Students will have the freedom to bring their assigned devices to and from school each day. Pencil and paper work will decrease substantially, a significant change from students’ previous learning habits.

“I think there is [already] a good blend of what we have on the computers and what we have available on pencil and paper,” History Teacher Marissa Petty said. “For my classes, a lot of it is discussion based, so it’s easier for kids to verbalize themselves that way, than if they were writing on a discussion board.”

The 1:1 format allows teachers to assign a higher percentage of technology-based work, primarily using Google applications. Classroom and homework assignments utilize these platforms. This shift has caused a change in students’ and teachers’ freedom in and out of the classroom.

“The computers help people self-pace as well,” Spanish Teacher Carrie Holman said. “Now, I have my homework assignments on Google Classroom and that way all my students can get feedback right away, and I do not have to constantly be grading homework to make sure you guys are grasping those concepts. Today a test day, if students finished early they could go grab a [computer]. Some students were working on getting ready for the next chapter and others were working on other classwork.”

To prepare, six teachers are serving as pilots for the program this school year. Their classrooms have changed and now contain laptop carts for students who do not bring in their own devices. Students are assigned a specific laptop and must remember the number of the laptop to allow students to quickly login each time. At the beginning of class, students must unplug their assigned laptops, then return them at the end of classes and plug them back in before the bell rings. Some have also considered making all aspects of their classroom movable and connected by changing the layout and function of the room. This facilitates a new path of learning for students that encourages ownership of how one learns and how instruction is delivered.

“It allows you to move at your own pace and work with what your strengths are,” Rebecca Snyder (’21) said. “It changed the way the classroom worked; there was less time where the teacher was talking and the class was taking notes and being quiet.”

These model classrooms will help eliminate any difficulties or unknowns of the 1:1 system and provide a forum for when the entirety of the school takes part next year. The process has included navigating a way for teachers to continue creating the optimal learning environment for students who do not collaborate well on computers.

“If you are only doing things on the computer, then it is absolutely not going to benefit every child the same way than if you were only doing things on pen and paper,” Petty said. “It is figuring out how you as a teacher can strike the right balance, and figure out how you can help students understand their balance so that everything works a little bit better for them.”