How many 7th and 8th grade educators in Maine realize that folks from all over the world come to see our 1:1 program in action? The 24/7 access to laptops for students and teachers that we take for granted is not the norm in most places. Yes–there are districts around the US that have some sort of 1:1 program, but Maine has the longest running large-scale 1:1 digital learning initiative in the world! Who is congratulating Maine educators for their innovative work?
Just a week ago, Danish educators were in state to learn more about MLTI. They visited 6 schools and were very impressed with the articulate and enthusiastic students who explained how the laptops allowed them to learn in ways that worked best for them.
Three lessons from MLTI’s 1:1 initiative are shared with visitors:
- It’s imperative to keep the emphasis on teaching and learning and not on the hardware and software.
- Professional development must be an ongoing proposition.
- Leadership is critical. Administrators need to be clear about expectations, must model the use of technology, and provide resources that allow teachers to collaborate in order to develop ways to integrate digital learning in their curriculum and instruction.
Maine 7th and 8th grade teachers (as well as many at other grade levels) have become so used to integrating laptops into everything they do that it’s just second nature now. Teaching and learning has changed forever in Maine’s middle grades.
- It’s not unusual any more for students to work with outside experts as part of their everyday learning .
- Students gather data on invasive species for researchers in the Vital Signs project.
- History has come alive for students involved with the Maine Memory Network of the Maine Historical Society.
- Student writing improves when they use the laptops during all phases of the writing process. “Five years after the initial implementation of the laptop program, students’ writing scores on Maine’s statewide test had significantly improved. Furthermore, students scored better the more extensively they used their laptops in developing and producing their writing. And finally, the evidence indicated that using their laptops in this fashion helped them to become better writers in general, not just better writers using laptops.” Maine’s Middle School Laptop Program: Creating Better Writers. http://usm.maine.edu/cepare/
- Students are helping local business and community organizations with website creation.
- Students are demonstrating their new learning with a multitude of digital products such as podcasts, Quicktime movies, digital slide shows, etc. Students will continue to learn new skills as the digital world evolves. The confidence they gain with digital tools will serve them well in future workplaces.
- Simulations like EcoBeaker and MyWorld GIS (on the MLTI image) are helping students develop critical thinking skills.
- Math has become more sophisticated as students learn how to use digital graphing tools.
- The traditional research project is no longer anything anyone who went to school in the late 20th century would recognize. Students must now master searching skills never imagined by generations in the last century.
- Students can easily review concepts and and skills taught in school 24/7 with online videos, exemplars posted on class wikis, and podcasts.
- Students can take virtual field trips, explore big ideas, view art masterpieces, and listen to extraordinary speakers on iTunesU.
People outside of Maine know that students are learning in new ways in our middle schools. They come to Maine to learn how to do 1:1 right. They go home convinced that adopting a 1:1 project is what they want for their children. I would bet that most Maine citizens do not realize the positive impact of MLTI on teaching and learning in our middle grades. Maine educators who have embraced the opportunities presented by MLTI are helping their students gain the knowledge and develop the skills, attitudes, and critical thinking necessary to successfully navigate their future world.