Students sitting in classrooms today are both digital natives and technology savvy. This generation of students requires personalized instruction according to their needs as well as quick access to online research, papers, writing, and projects. This generation is also used to, and exposed to, social networking and collaboration on a daily basis. Research has shown that out of a population of 300,000 students, 65% of them report they are bored in school, 82% consider the material they are exposed to uninteresting, and 41% believe it is not relevant. As a result, educators must turn a regular lesson into a 21st century learning experience.
One way to provide this experience in the classroom is to create an environment where students constantly use technology and engage in higher-level activities and cooperative learning. Mobile education and technology allows students to interact with their peers, enhance their educational experience, and retain information processed in class. SMILE (Stanford Mobile Inquiry-Based Learning Environment) provides our students the possibility of integrating all these necessities. Students collaborate and communicate about concepts learned in a classroom setting through the use of a tablet application designed by the Stanford School of Education and Marvell. This app turns a classroom into an engaging interactive environment where students with different learning styles and needs participate in an academic process designing high level thinking questions.
Two of the fifth grade classrooms at Ellis Elementary School are using this interactive tool to create and answer questions from the science standards. This activity helps students retain information taught in class, and ultimately perform better on state assessments. SMILE also allows students to develop critical reasoning and problem solving skills, necessary for our professional world. It helps students generate, share, and evaluate multimedia-rich inquiries.
Ellis currently has 19 Vizio tablets that are used in the classrooms. Students work in pairs, allowing them to practice cooperative learning strategies with their peers and develop leadership skills. It has been a wonderful experience for the students at Ellis this year!
Article by Claudia Olaciregui, 4th/5th Grade Teacher/Ellis Elementary School