1:1 Classrooms: Enhancing learning & teaching

The 1:1 Initiative at WICSD: Enhancing learning & teaching
Posted on 04/10/2019

A year after it was introduced in West Irondequoit at Dake Junior High School, Iroquois and Rogers middle school students started using 1:1 technology this year. To outfit approximately 800 more students with laptops was a massive undertaking by the District, but done with meaning, purpose and a belief: Computers as a tool help each child become better 21st century learners.

Technology can make learning more engaging for students, and in terms of instruction, can even enhance “collaboration between teachers, students and even other districts,” said Dan Fullerton, who taught Physics at Irondequoit High School for a decade before becoming WICSD’s Director of Technology last fall. 

Children are far from intimidated by technology. By the time many reach kindergarten, they’ve experienced iPads and mobile devices. They also can learn more from each other. Teachers can guide them more swiftly through their own work while also using the work of classmates to display successes and shared shortcomings. “We can give each other positive and negative feedback,” one WICSD middle school student says.

Technology also allows for more personalized learning and differentiated instruction. It’s a more student-centered focus. We know students don’t learn at the same pace or by same methods, so 1:1 technology makes it possible to differentiate the delivery of concepts and assignments, using a variety of methods and tools.

Think about it: If a lesson moves too quickly and some students miss the point, a video can be paused or replayed several times for students who need a little more time. “I feel like it’s easier to learn,” says another WICSD student in grades 4-6.

Take reading, for example. Judy Barrett, a fifth-grade social studies teacher at Rogers, uses a program called “Studies Weekly,” that “allows students to read along as the text is highlighted word by word.  It really gives us a lot of flexibility to give students more support.”

“Part of the success with 1:1 has been the willingness of our teachers to take risks and step out of their comfort zones,” says Rogers Principal, Ms. Michelle Flood. “They’re learning and exploring – just like our students – how to improve learning experiences for all students.”

Barrett says it was a little intimidating at first. “Just the thought of shifting lessons and how do you put them in (as) digital content so students can access (them),” she says, noting it also created excitement. “I feel like it was definitely time for us to do this.”

Mr. Christian Zwahlen, the first-year Principal at Iroquois, says the transition has gone well.

“I think that’s because of the buy-in we’ve had from teachers and their willingness and excitement for their own professional development and better learning for students,” Zwahlen said. “It has been really collaborative. Teachers are getting into each other’s classrooms to share and observe best practices.”

-- Jeff DiVeronica | WICSD Director of Public Information