Tablets allow teachers to customize instruction

Uplift Hampton scholars work on tablets.
Uplift Hampton scholars work on tablets.

Schools across the Uplift network are piloting the use of tablet computers in the classroom this year to enhance literacy and math instruction. Thanks to the donation of 30 Kindle Fire tablets from the Jiv Daya Foundation (JDF), Uplift has started one of these programs at Uplift Hampton Primary in southern Dallas.

This summer Uplift Hampton Primary received the Kindles along with headphones for 3rd and 4th grade students and teachers to use in multidisciplinary studies from JDF as part of their Student E-Reader Program (StEP) for a gift totaling $5,070.

“When you walk into the class and see all of our scholars truly engaged by working on the tablets and writing in their notebooks, you can really feel the impact on their learning,” said Roxanne Ashley, Uplift Hampton Primary Director.

According to JDF, the ones of the goals of the StEP program is to increase students’ exposure to technology. Because tablets can be utilized in several subject areas, schools have the freedom to exercise creativity in how the students interact with technology.

At Uplift Hampton, math intervention specialist Aisha Scott leads ten 60 minute sessions each week with 3rd and 4th graders focusing on Reasoning Mind, a non-profit who works with schools to create a math program hybrid of online and face-to-face instruction, where the teacher gives each child individual help and attention.  Each day the scholars begin the period setting goals, work through mastering objectives on the Kindle and take notes in their journals.

The Kindle Fires work well for this kind of program because they are inexpensive and offer an expansive application library. Since the devices are full-functioning tablets, educational apps available on other platforms also run on the Kindles.

“There are so many benefits to this program and it really gets the scholars excited for math.   We’ve been using them for almost two months and in that time I’ve been able to pre-teach material scholars will learn in class, identify scholars who need intervention, and challenge scholars who are ahead of their peers,” said Ms. Scott.

Ms. Scott received training from Reasoning Minds to learn the program and will continue to receive support throughout the year.  In September, Dr. Vinay K. Jain, president of JDF visited the classrooms to see the scholars in action.

“He was very pleased with what he saw. JDF is proud to be partnered with such a great charter network to bring opportunities to students through digital devices.  The students and teacher were 100 percent focused on the task at hand, excited to be learning, and utilizing the devices to increase their skills,” said Kendsie Hunter, education grants coordinator.

Ms. Scott said she has been very pleased with the support she’s received from both JDF and Reasoning Minds and excited to continue with the program throughout the year.  When the Kindles are not in use, she has developed a system to let other teachers and scholars check out the e-readers for reading, vocabulary, science, research and Saturday school.

“Since there’s no computer lab dedicated just to primary, this grant has given our scholars access to technology that we wouldn’t have had otherwise,” said Ms, Scott.

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