Chad Solomon's 7th grade science students can share in the
teaching in hisclass this year.
That's because Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, where
Solomon teaches, along with 22 other Chicago Public Schools,
received sets of iPads for classroom use starting this fall,
utilizing federal grant funds.
In Solomon's class, the iPad has allowed students to break away
from relying on "10-year-old textbooks" and engage with real
science issues by mapping food deserts and commenting to
scientists about their research.
The new device, which debuted last April, changed the game for
Solomon and has already made an impact in schools around Chicago as
an educational resource.
In his 11 years at Whitney Young, it's usually been, "I'm the
expert; I'm the master," Solomon says. "Here, we're working on it
Solomon said his students love this approach, so much so that
students inmorning classes sometimes skip lunch to sit in on his
Last week, he used iPads to help students review for final exams
this week. In about 15 minutes, he found and downloaded a free app,
called Clicker and set up a review game to go over
content to be tested.
As students answered questions on their iPads, Solomon says his
own device updated in real-time, showing him how students were
doing and help those who needed it in a small, private setting.
Solomon says the iPads have helped his rapport with the
students. They see that he is experimenting as a teacher, he says,
and that, together, they are "pushing the limits of education."
CPS offered the grant to individual schools because the tech
tools have "limitless capabilities" in the classroom and "can
support learning across levelsand subjects," says Bobby Otter, a
school district representative.
The iPads are now being used to support all types of learning
and learners, including students with special needs or limited
English language skills, he said.
Many Chicago schools applied, and those that were successful
submitted innovative proposals explaining "how they were going to
use them as an educational device, as opposed to just wanting
them," Otter said.
"It's gotten teachers excited," he said. "But more important,
it's gotten students excited."
Take Solomon's standard lesson on waterborne disease. In the
past, that's meant looking at a history of cholera
outbreaks. This year, the students used iPads to research the
on-going cholera outbreak in Haiti. Now, says Solomon, "the
students are a part of the story."
Don't look for iPads to be coming to your child's school anytime
soon, though. Otter says that although feedback from teachers has
been overwhelmingly positive, the iPad grant was only a pilot,
although the district is applying for more money from the
Funding aside, Solomon says he doesn't see the iPad being a
"backpack replacement" just yet, but sees technology making a major
impact in theclassrooms of the future.
"I feel like we have barely scratched the surface of how these
devices willchange our classrooms," he says. "But it will be for
Gulnaz Saiyed is a writer for the Medill News Service.
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