Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Decade of Experience and Research on 1-2-1 in Maine Gives a Passing Grade

Great newspaper article, with research to back it up, on the decade of 1-2-1 laptop use by teachers and middle school students in Maine:
10 years after laptops come to Maine schools, educators say technology levels playing field for students

Key ideas:
- each seventh- and eighth-grader in Maine public schools and every grades 7-12 teacher has a laptop paid for by state taxpayers
- Teachers, students and administrators interviewed for this report said laptops are giving several kinds of return on that money:
-- Laptops make learning and schoolwork more interesting, students and teachers said. “When kids are engaged, you can teach them anything...
-- Writing test scores have improved
-- Math skills have jumped. The number of students who need remedial math in the ninth grade has been cut in half. In 2001-02, Freeport Middle School's eighth grade passing rate on basic math tests was about 50 percent. In 2009-10, it was 91 percent.
-- Laptop critics worry that laptops are a distraction from learning: Students spend too much time on social-networking sites, including Facebook and Skype. 
-- Overall, educators say the laptops have done what King promised: level the playing field of access to technology and help students become technology-literate. 
-- Before laptops, students had to learn where to find the information on the library shelves. Today, finding information online is easy. Students now need to learn how to critique the information. That is a higher level of thinking skill, Robinson said.

Ten years later, King believes the laptop program was the right thing to do.
“I'm as enthusiastic as ever,” King said. “We did the right thing at the right time. It's been tremendously successful.”

There is a great video with students at the end of the article; I encourage you to watch it!!

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