Digitize Me!

Created by the author from Haiku Deck -- an internet application that can be used in a 1 to 1 classroom.
Created by the author from Haiku Deck — an internet application that can be used in a 1 to 1 classroom.

Prompt:  Assume you have your first full time teaching job and the principal tells you that you’ve been selected to pilot the  “1 to 1 Project.”  What are your thoughts about the opportunities and challenges that  presents?

Technology is not only a fact of life for most Americans these days but rather an integral part of their everyday lives. This is especially true for today’s teens who often interact with multiple forms of technology on a regular basis. Enter “1 to 1 classrooms,” an amazing opportunity for educators to utilize technology in order to create an engaging and meaningful learning environment for their students. Personally, I can envision countless ways to take advantage of all that 1 to 1 classroom activities have to offer—not least of which being the possibility of encourage students’ willingness and drive to learn.

I am very interested in the idea of a “flipped” classroom, especially in the context of a social studies class. I feel this structure would lend itself very well to the subject for example, students could watch a pre-recorded video of a lecture and then come prepared to class to discuss and delve deeper into related primary sources. My concern with this set-up however would be in terms of access. I’ve worked in a number of high poverty schools and I know that this strategy would not have worked and indeed would have been a hardship for my students. The ideas, opportunities, and apps are all out there doing amazing things, I just think that we as educators need to always think very critically about how to implement 1 to 1 strategies to best serve our students’ unique needs and circumstances.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Harnessing Classroom Technology

Prompt:  Assume you have your first full time teaching job and the principal tells you that you’ve been selected to pilot the  “1 to 1 Project.”  What are your thoughts about the opportunities and challenges that  presents?

Classroom tech of yesteryear: slate boards and chalk – typically used in 19th-century American log cabin schools

Advances in technology are fundamentally transforming the way students engage with social studies content. The widespread availability of primary documents and inexpensive applications give teachers unprecedented flexibility in creating opportunities for learning. Of course, these opportunities come with caveats. The boundlessness of the internet  requires that teachers balance student freedom with thoughtful curation of content and activities.

The dimension of the one-to-one classroom that is most exciting to me is the potential for student-directed inquiry. At its core, teaching social studies is about teaching students to investigate social phenomena and think critically. Ideally, a social studies lesson requires that student find, interpret, and synthesize data to reach conclusions. Consequently, I feel that one of my chief obligations is to prepare students to utilize the tools and resources that will be available to them throughout their lives. The one-to-one classroom gives me the ability to do exactly this. Instead of providing students with a a single question and a section from a textbook, individual students can participate in the process of finding and supporting answers on their own. Teachers can offer broad prompts and guidance regarding the evaluation of sources, but students ultimately use these activities to hone their own research and critical thinking skills. Further, the kind of student learning data potentially produced in the context of a one-to-one classroom is very rich and can inform more responsive and better-tailored teaching.

The one-to-one classroom brings with it two major challenges. First, teachers must ensure that all students in the class are equipped with the requisite tech skills to participate fully in class. In some ways, more technology makes certain kinds of scaffolding and support easier. For example, software can help ensure that linguistic or sensory differences do not limit students’ ability to participate in lessons. Conversely, students will need to be able to use search engines, word processing applications, and other kinds of applications. Some students will enter the classroom already possessing these skills but others will be new to the technology. It is imperative that teachers have a plan to provide students with everything they will need to fully engage in the one-to-one setting.

Additionally, I suspect that keeping students’ attention will require constant monitoring. The solution probably requires both support from software limiting students’ and careful observation by the teacher. Hopefully, between engaging content, frequent check-ins with individual students, and effective “locking down” of the device, distractions won’t undermine lessons.


As classrooms integrate tech infrastructure, the limitations facing teachers are changing. Access to documents or software is no longer a primary obstacle. Instead, the challenge for me will be harnessing these potent resources to maximize student learning. I hope to be fortunate enough to have the chance to explore the possibilities created by the one-to-one classroom as a professional teacher.

Sources: Photo – Doug Coldwell


Tablets, Phones, Laptops, Oh My

Prompt:  Assume you have your first full time teaching job and the principal tells you that you’ve been selected to pilot the  “1 to 1 Project.”  What are your thoughts about the opportunities and challenges that  presents?

Computer used at a steel mill in 1962.
UNIVAC computer used in 1960 Census

In the ever expanding world of technology it is no surprise that students and teachers are coming to school with electronic devices that just 10 years ago would have seemed impossible to carry in a backpack or pocket. This ever evolving world of technology is pushing the world of education towards a direction suitable for the next generations of children; this new direction is, of course, a one to one classroom where every student will be equipped with a tablet or laptop, and be able to use that device for learning. In some schools this has already been adopted by some teachers or even whole buildings. In these school the teachers are allowing the students to use technology in order to develop a more complex understanding of the material out there. No longer are students required to know the date of an event, when one can simply Google the answer, and get every piece of information about the topic in front of them in real time.

In my experience, seeing the effects of a one to one classroom, mostly in Language Arts, the students are performing at a higher level of task completion. What I can see is that the one to one doesn’t mean the students are developing a more complex critical thinking ability, but instead they are producing projects that a higher level of overall class completion. Students are already advocating for using technology in every assignment given to them. With programs like Google Classroom teachers are able to post, assign, lecture, keep parents informed, and have an easier time keeping track of students work. This also leads to increased feedback responses from teachers. The issue is cost: who is going to pay for all the computers, tablets, or laptops for each student to have?

In my ideal world of teaching I would like to run a one to one classroom with each student having a personal device such as a Macbook, Chromebook or tablet. In the field of Social Studies it has always been about memorizing information and regurgitating facts. I ask myself why? With WiFi, a student can just Google any answer on their phone. I would rather have the students use information found online to develop a greater understanding of the material and researching methods in order to produce a project that reflects the material and the student’s interest. It would also make the role of my teaching a lot easier. I could post lectures, PowerPoint, notes, assignment, etc… to a class website. This would allow students easy, consistent access to anything that they missed or need a refresher on.

In the world today, I do not see any reason for students not to have access to computers in education. It is future of the next generation and beyond. The more access we giving them now, and skills we teach them, the better off they will be in life.

US Census Bureau. (1960) Image. UNIVAC computer used in 1960 census. Website Retrieved October 25, 2015. Link

Technological Muses

Teacher Showing Students Native American Handicrafts at a school in Washington D.C.

Prompt:  Assume you have your first full time teaching job and the principal tells you that you’ve been selected to pilot the  “1 to 1 Project.”  What are your thoughts about the opportunities and challenges that  presents?

The challenges to running a one to one classroom are minuscule compared to the benefits that they provide students, teachers, and parents in being able to more efficiently and effectively learn. This is especially true in this age where computers are becoming increasingly commonplace in all fields of employ. But the challenges that a one to one classroom give are important enough to warrant consideration, in particular I feel that the first stage of creating a one to one classroom is the hardest since you have to gauge how technologically savvy the students in your class are. The one to one classroom provides an opportunity for students to synthesize information into collaborative projects that doesn’t require everyone to be at the same place at the same time, which is the nail in the coffin for any and all group projects.

Of the challenges that arise in a one to one classroom is the accountability aspect of using the technology. In a traditional classroom setting a teacher can quickly glance around the room and ascertain the approximate level of completion of a project, piece of writing, and focus on a learning task without having to check in with every student. In a one to one classroom a teacher can still check in with every student on a regular basis, but the process is slowed down by the need to open each document up individually to see where the student is on the task. Another challenge that arises in a one to one classroom is the ease in which the documents can be edited, where a mischievous student can ruin the hard work of other students. Fortunately for those schools that use Google Classroom/Doc’s there is a way to see all the edits made inside of the document, and if this feature is previewed before hand and paired with other punishments for altering another students work then most potential interrupters give up.

The chief benefit that the one to one classroom provides is increased activity choices, where students group presentations were limited to pictures drawn on paper in the past, in the one to one classroom students can work together to form PowerPoint style slideshows. The one to one classroom makes what once was under the exclusive ownership of the teacher accessible to students and allows the teacher to focus on the learning activities and tasks rather than trying to push information into a students mind. In these ways the one to one classroom’s learning benefits far outstrip the negatives.

Image Credit: Library of Congress

Title: Teacher Showing Students Native American Handicrafts at a School in Washington, D.C.

Creator: Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer

Date Created/Published: 1899