If Room 303 is any indication, letting great teachers call the hardware shots might be an amazingly good idea
by EdSurge co-founder Matt Bowman
“Whoa.” Several visitors simultaneously whispered the same assessment upon entering Burnett Elementary’s Room 303 in Milpitas, CA.
The teacher, Ms. Alison Elizondo, greeted our tour group. Behind her, 33 4th graders were sprawled in groups across the room. Two huddled around a Chromebook listening to a third explain some point of a paused Khan Academy video. Another pair used an iPad to record their own math lesson. Half a dozen typed away independently, writing, as we soon learned, narratives of how to solve sample word problems they themselves had developed. A large bulletin board displayed each student’s personal math objectives for the year. Elizondo herself was coaching one single student when we entered, with her back to the class. She prefers sitting that way to show trust.
As we milled about the room, visitors began exchanging furtive glances like prospectors discovering the Mother Lode. A purposeful buzz permeated the tech-heavy class as 8- and 9-years olds taught each other the finer points of arithmetic.
Burnett Elementary is a Title I public school with 50% immigrant population in the Milpitas school district, whose bottom-up approach to going blended we profiled earlier this week. That approach, which gives teachers a big say in what tech to use and how, seems to be yielding positive results in Room 303. Eighty percent of Elizondo’s students were proficient by the end of last year, and the 4th grade as a whole had the highest math proficiency rates in the school.
The district let Elizondo take the lead on creating her blended rotational model, even allowing her to dictate hardware requirements. She ended up with a rather fine-tuned setup: 18 Chromebooks and 2 iPads, with access to Khan Academy and EduCreations. Elizondo developed the model with a single goal in mind: free the teacher up for more one-on-one coaching time. Along the way, she’s training her students to teach themselves, focusing on skills like goal-setting, progress tracking and checking for mastery…
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For more on Alison’s classroom, check out her blog posts here.