Lessons Learned from the 1:1 Laptop Initiative in Mooresville, NC

Recently, I was able to travel to Mooresville, NC to see K-6 students using laptops in a 1:1 environment. The first school that we visited was Mooresville Intermediate School for grades 4-6.  We arrived at 8:30 just as they finished the News Show, which they broadcasted in English and Spanish. The Spanish speaking students are much more interested in and excited to hear important news and events in their native language.  The principal took us on a tour of the building,  the first room we visited was the Help Desk classroom. It is staffed with a full time Technician. She was formally a kindergarten assistant who enjoyed working with technology. She takes damaged laptops and troubleshoots issues. They also have a district technician who visits to take the machines apart if there are bigger problems involved. Some common occurrences they take care of are resetting passwords, juice or water spills on the keyboards, cracked screens, and even insects inside the computer.

At 8:45-9:15 they have Enrichment and Remediation stations during Homeroom. This is a period of time when students log onto their Portal to check assignments to see if they need to turn in any late work, redo assignments or go on to enrichment activities.  M, W, F are Math Enrichment and Remediation days, T, Th are Reading remediation.  All of their work is posted on the portal and this is where they upload their work. 4th -12th grade students can take their computers home, 3rd grade students leave their laptops at school. Differentiation and individualized instruction were apparent in every classroom. Students were working at their own pace, at their own level, and the teachers became guides on the side.

Students used graphic organizers as they conducted research and talked about their findings with partners and in groups as they completed the graphic organizers.  They used worldeducation games and study island to play games with students from all over the world. They used the website edheads  to perform hip surgery.  A class was using Edmodo for a book review, students were using Quizlet to study for tests and play games, and partners were writing a book using StoryBird. Each student had to write specific thoughts as posted by the teacher.

Many students were using virtual manipulatives for fractions and geometry. One accountability practice that we observed was the students took screen shots of their scores on games and showed that to the teacher. She was able to see at a glance if the students understood the concept or if they needed individual help from her.

Teachers used Pages (Word for non Macs) to create 100s, 10s, 1s cubes and students were to color the cubes to display fractions and decimals. A students was using Animoto to create a tornado video as she researched tornadoes.

Displayed on a bulletin board in the hallway, were book reviews. The covers of books were stapled to the board with QR codes attached. The QR codes linked to iMovie Book Trailers created by students.

Next school we visited was Rocky Road Elementary School for K-4. The students in K5-grade 2 shared laptops between grade levels. The classrooms would have 6 laptops per classroom that they used for literacy and math stations. Several students were using Raz Kids and Pebblego.com for reading stations.  For math they were using www.ixl.com and www.xtramath.org for math stations and www.explorelearning.com

The National Superintendent of the Year, Dr. Mark Edwards, met with us after our tour and talked about the culture shift their district went through before they ever introduced the 1:1 concept.  They had meetings with the community, identified teacher leaders and led professional development about how to be teacher leaders. They began thinking “What is best for the students?”.  They met with grade levels from all schools and projects their test data (MAP data for us) on the screen for each teachers and discussed….what is it that this teacher is doing to get these test results? What is the secret? They shared their tips for success. They all believed in their philosophy Every Child Every Day and it showed.

Here is a link to a YouTube video about the visit.

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