This fall, each of our 21 Digital Promise Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) rolled out tablet devices to its students and teachers. Device rollout is an exciting time and becomes a huge celebration for the school and the community. Every student and teacher in the VILS project receives a tablet device with a data plan that can be used both in and out of school.
After the initial excitement of having new devices wears off, teachers shift the focus to using technology to enhance learning. They’ve only had these devices in their classrooms for a few weeks, but teachers are already using them in innovative ways.
We hear about learning moments from our coaches and individual teachers, and from the storytellers who work to capture these victories every day. One example of enhancing student learning through technology came out of a unique cross-curricular lesson from a classroom in Ypsilanti, Michigan — the “All-American Road Trip” project. In the video below, you’ll see the lesson in action as students work on their projects. The challenge: plan out a week-long road trip on a set budget, beginning and ending in Ypsilanti.
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Students are required to plan an itinerary and create a budget for gas, lodging, and food. The road trip project is designed to help students apply concepts from both math and geography to a real-world situation. They use their tablets to create an interactive map and route for the trip, search for rental cars and hotels along the way, and determine costs. Each project is unique; students are given the freedom to go anywhere in the United States (as long as they stay on budget!). This project has a variety of real-world applications, and takes students beyond simply solving math problems on a worksheet or reading a map on paper.
For students, using technology in this type of project makes the lesson more interactive, fun, and relatable. For teachers, the flexibility provided by technology is key. When every student has a device with always-available internet access, they can work on this type of project during any class period, at home, or anywhere else. Without this flexibility, teachers would have to rely on computer lab hours or plan ahead to make sure devices were available for their classroom on a specific day.
This project is just one of many examples of enhanced learning in a VILS classroom. At Digital Promise, one of our goals is to share what learning can look like when teachers are able to leverage technology in their lessons. It’s impossible to capture each and every one of these learning moments, but having coaches and storytellers who inspire teachers and share stories helps us show the impact that technology can have on student learning.