Great Expectations: Closing The Achievement Gap With iPads

Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement. -W. Clement Stone

If you search the internet for technology and educational achievement, you will find a variety of opinions as to whether technology impacts achievement in elementary school.  Having taught school through a veritable technology spectrum that ranges from no classroom technology, to having an Apple IIe with no internet connection and a stack of 5 1/4 floppy disks, to 4  networked Dell Desktops and now iPads for each student, I can say the student motivation with technology has always been higher than without.

I’ve stated before that technology without purpose will not yield desired results.   Schilling and Schilling (1999) capture well the broad idea that expectations are vital to education. … the literature on motivation and school performance in younger school children suggests that expectations shape the learning experience very powerfully. For example, classic studies in the psychology literature have found that merely stating an expectation results in enhanced performance, that higher expectations result in higher performance, and that persons with high expectations perform at a higher level than those with low expectations, even though their measured abilities are equal.

In an earlier post, I shared reading results from the 2010-11 school year.  We used iPads from the end of January until the end of the year.  It was exciting to see such growth.  This year, with only 24 school days remaining, our data is equally exciting.

It is interesting to note that I had 2 students transfer in after Christmas as non-readers.  They are currently reading above grade level.  How is this possible? Systematic teaching in the Workshop Model and the ability to differentiate instruction to meet individual student needs on the iPad is the key.  Student-centric technology is the answer to the One-Size Fits All approach to learning.

The larger debate concerning the effect of technology on student achievement goes on outside our little classroom.  I’m not a statistician nor am I a researcher, but when 100% of my students are going to First Grade reading above grade level 2 years in a row, I would say iPads are an essential part of our learning environment.

I’d love for you to leave a comment, subscribe to my blog, and/or share this post with a friend.

15 thoughts on “Great Expectations: Closing The Achievement Gap With iPads

  1. Kristi, You fail to mention the importance of having a rockstar teacher such as yourself in obtaining results like this. We are very excited about this and hope to be given the opportunity to replicate these results in other classrooms. I am more than confident that the independent researchers will have similar stories from other classrooms as they start digging into the data! As always, for shining a light, Kristi!

  2. I would be interested to see a comparison with the data shown above to the progress of a traditional kindergarten class taught by the same teacher. As much as I like the idea of Ipads having such a huge impact on student reading levels, there needs to be something to compare it to.

    • Jackie,
      Thanks for your comment. If you look back at a previous post Where’s The Beef, you will see my data from before iPads to after. I received iPads in January, 2011. We used them the rest of the school year and all of this year. Prior to last year, I’ve never had 100% of students reading above grade level. Some were reading above, some on and a few below grade level. Both years of iPads have resulted in 100% reading above grade level.

  3. My school is considereing gettin ipads for teachers. Can you please share some f teh apps you think contricute to this great achievement! i teach 1st grade! Oh and WAY TO GO!!!!!

    • Courtney
      I hope you are able to get them. It has revolutionized our teaching at my school. While there are many great apps, it all goes back to good teaching with apps. While apps are important, you can get great results with iPads with almost any educational app if used correctly. Look at my blog home page and on the right column you will see under categories Apps I Use. That may give you some ideas.
      Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

      • Hi Kristi,
        I am a Year 2 teacher (Grade 1)and have 10 iPads to share with 27 students.
        What would you say to Early Years Educators who maintain that children will “get technology” later and our focus in early years must be on writing(with a pencil) and reading (books)? I would love to know more about your reading programme and how you run it. My children each have a blog (very new) and I have to say this is the best thing I have ever done in terms of purposeful technology in my class. I have so many more questions for you….
        It has been a wonderful (and timely) to find your blog.
        THANK YOU.

      • Cat,
        I say technology in the early years is the perfect time to start. We do use paper and pencil and still require all of their Writer’s Workshop writing be done on paper. We use the iPads for other demonstration of concepts and skills in all subject areas. It is a powerful tool and little people shouldn’t be excluded because they are young. My kids are proof that awesome things happen. In 24 years of teaching, we’ve used iPads in the last 3 years. Those last 3 years, 100% of my students have gone to first grade reading above grade level. That is possible because I am able to personalize learning for every student through the use of the iPads.

  4. Hi Kristi, I am actually interested in using ipads like you discussed above to help improve kindergarten reading levels. I have searched all over your blog, even in the apps I use post, but didn’t couldn’t find what I was looking for. I’m interested specifically in the apps and tools you used to improve you students reading levels, as shown above. I have downloaded numerous of them and always look threw to see which are good and which aren’t. I would love if you could give me the names of the ones you used to save me some time. Thank you and keep up the great blog!

    • Heather,
      As you know, teaching reading is a complicated process. I use the Reading Workshop approach which incorporates small, flexible groups. In these groups, I use iPads to reinforce phonics skills and reading with many of the apps I’ve written about. It’s a combination of iPads and guided reading with just-right books daily. I wish it was as simple as saying “this app” or “that app” but it’s not. Good luck!

  5. I’m taking my Kindergarten qualifications (as a specialist course) and am researching the use of iPads in K programs (esp. as a tool for documentation of learning, and planning in an inquiry-based, child-led program)…I’ve been sucked into the rabbit hole of your blog! So much interesting reading. I’ll definitely be back!

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