Monthly Archives: March 2013

Auburn’s Data Shows (Again) The Positive Impact of iPads

Our School Committee wants to know if there has been an impact of having iPads in the primary grades classrooms, and there has been!

In fact, we recently presented those findings to the School Committee.

All our primary grades students participate in CPAA testing (Children's Progress Academic Assessment). It is a test meant to be used as formative assessment to let teachers know where their students are in their literacy and math learning, giving them information about student mastery of specific concepts, helping inform teachers' instruction.

As we look back over the CPAA data from past years, and compare to the cohorts of students who have had iPads, we found that a larger percentage of students have reached proficiency, and have reached it sooner, than in the years before we had iPads. For kindergarten, this is true for 6 out of 8 concepts. For first grade, it is true for 5 out of 7 concepts.

We know it hasn't just been the iPads. We have done a ton of professional development on literacy best practices, math best practices, and educational technology best practices.

But what this data does tell us, is that when we combine teachers with professional development and 1to1 iPads, then our students learn more, faster.

In other words, Advantage 2014, our literacy, math, and iPad initiative, is having a positive effect on student achievement.

So when we ask for iPads for second grade, we aren't just asking for tech or gadgets. We are asking for a proven educational resource that helps our students learn better.

Is Project-Based Learning Supported by Research?

I'm surprised at how often I still get asked if Project-Based Learning (PBL) is supported by research (I guess this very old approach is still new to many folks…). The good news is that there is strong evidence that when project-based learning is done right, there are positive outcomes for the learners, as these quotes from research summaries point out:

“A growing body of academic research supports the use of project-based learning in schools as a way to engage students, cut absenteeism, boost cooperative learning skills, and improve test scores. Those benefits are enhanced when technology is used in a meaningful way in the projects.” (The whole research summary)

“Studies have proven that when implemented well, project-based learning (PBL) can increase retention of content and improve students' attitudes towards learning, among other benefits.” (The whole research summary)

“Overall, the research on Project-based Learning (PBL) reports positive outcomes related to student learning in the areas of content knowledge, collaborative skills, engagement and motivation, and critical thinking and problem-solving skills.” (The whole research summary)

And here is additional research on PBL.


Getting Girls Interested in Science

How can we get more girls (especially middle grades girls!) interested in science, technology, engineering, and math?

So maybe we should be working to insure that our middle grades programs feature hands-on science and technology activities, field trips, role models, and female-friendly contexts for learning content. And maybe Maine's middle schools should also pursue successful, evidence-based curricula that have demonstrated their ability to deliver positive outcomes and success in stimulating girls’ interest in STEM subjects and instilling self-confidence in their abilities…

Read more at the Bright Futures blog.