Teachers Using Tablets to Personalize Learning

The Guilford County Board of Education learned more about how tablets are being used in classrooms at their meeting Tuesday night.

Staff reported that about 70 percent of teachers who responded to a voluntary survey said they use the tablets in some capacity every day or most days, and about 83 percent of teachers said the tablet has helped them some or a lot as a teacher.

The board also talked to a teacher about how she uses the tablets to enhance learning in her classroom.

Lauren Smith, a sixth grade math teacher at Jackson Middle School, explained how she records lessons that students then watch on their tablets, allowing students to learn at their own pace. This includes stopping and re-watching portions of the videos – things students can’t do in live lessons.

The students then practice the skill they’ve learned and later prove they understand the material with an online assessment they must pass before moving to the next lesson. Smith says this technique allows students who need more time to have it and allows students who can move faster to spend more time on math enrichment activities. 

Because she’s not up front teaching lessons, Smith says she can spend more time working one-on-one with students.   She also reports that students’ grades and confidence have markedly improved with this new approach.

The board also heard from students about how this new approach has helped them.

“There were a lot of questions being asked but not everyone needed those questions answered and stopped paying attention,” said student Raymond Mills from Jackson. “I like this way of learning better because I don’t have to worry about asking questions in front of other students, I can just ask (Mrs. Smith) when I need to.”

Smith is the first of many teachers who will be featured in a forthcoming “Show Me” video series, designed to encourage all teachers to expand personalized learning in classrooms. The videos will showcase different ways tablets, other technologies and plain-old good teaching can be used to personalize student learning.

“Teachers tell us, ‘I get it, but can you show me what it looks like with students like mine or in the subject area I teach?’  These ‘Show Me’ videos aim to do that – to give teachers concrete examples of what personalized learning looks like across a variety of student demographics and subject areas,” says Robin Britt, director of instructional technology. “It’s also worth noting that while tablets and other technologies will often make appearances in these videos, the real stories are about what teachers and students are doing, not what the technology is doing.”

The videos will be released over time to help create highlights that span a broad range across different instructional practices, schools, grade levels and subject areas.