5 months in and I can show some of the impact, as you will read, but also realise the importance of being patient, too!
Does the implementation of iPads across year five and six lead to closing the attainment gap between pupil premium and non-pupil premium pupils? Context Tower Hill Community Primary School serves a socio-economically challenging area. 45% of pupils are enrolled with Pupil Premium Funding. The school is particularly focused in closing the attainment gap by ensuring all pupils access the curriculum. In September 2014, the attainment was lower for those with Pupil Premium compared to non-Pupil Premium in our current year 6 cohort. Previous year six classes did not have this gap and our Head Teacher is heralding good Pupil Premium practice. This made me eager to focus even more on closing the gap within the year six group. This project closely monitors the impact on year 5 and year 6 pupils, whilst developing the use of iPads across the school. A QCA behaviour checklist, completed in January 2015, scored the pupils for being ‘Attentive and has an interest in school work’ (motivation and engagement) at 60%. Other teachers within the school have expressed that this has been an issue with the year six cohort for several years.
In December 2014, the school made a substantial investment by purchasing 32 iPads. Governors are keen to see the impact the iPads are making upon children’s progress. The decision for this investment was heavily based upon research by NAACE (2012) and Apple (2014).
There is a growing body of research that points to the impact of hand-held devices in the classroom. NAACE, after its case-study of Longfield Academy, concluded that, “There has been a significant and very positive impact on learning and teaching which, in time, should be reflected in achievement and attainment, thanks to both pedagogical changes and new ways of learning engendered by “any time anywhere” access to information and learning tools.” Heinrich (2012:54).
Educational Thinkers such as Gilbert (2011), Robinson (2015) and Ryan (2008) all use the word transformative when discussing the impact that new technology could have on the classroom. The transformative effect of iPads therefore should be more than adding another resource to the list, but rather dramatically changing the way teachers teach and learners learn. Michael Fullan emphasises the need for leaders to find what he has coined ‘the simplexity’. He defines it as: Finding the smallest number of high-leverage, easy-to-understand actions that unleash stunningly powerful consequences (2010:16) In the 21st Century, many are arguing that the implementation of new technologies, such as iPads, is just that. Ofsted (2008-2011) reported that only in schools where ICT was a clear part of the development plan was there clear evidence of increased levels of engagement and pupil outcomes. However, this was not the case where there was no clear understanding of how to apply the new technology appropriately. This points to the importance of leading change effectively- a challenge which I welcome.
Gilbert (2002) in his book Essential Motivation in the Classroom, believes that truly intrinsic motivation is rooted in hope for a better future. This can be found through discovering an interest or aiming for a job. Zoe Elder (2012:10) emphasises this by stating that “actively embracing the innovative use of technology to support learning is a brilliant way to involve, motivate and inspire our learners to engage with the world beyond the immediate horizons”. Activity From January 2015, I have been implementing the use of iPads in year five and six through several key ways:
1. Providing rich Assessment for All opportunities during most lessons through Apps such as Socrative, Nearpod and Showbie. Often these allow higher quality and more informed teacher assessment.
2. Providing ‘Flipped Learning’ in some sessions through Apps such as Showme and Explain Everything.
3. Allowing children to choose how they present information through a range of Apps such as Green Screen, Comic Life and Opinion.
Throughout this, I have communicated to other staff in order to develop and inform their own practice. I have done this through:
1. Working closely with peers from a different Key Stage. This was based upon advise from Michael Fullan (2010) who argues that rather than a top-down approach, enabling peers is much more successful.
2. Investing in Digital Leaders (year five and six) who train staff, set up iPads and support staff during their lessons to reduce the barriers that are stopping teachers from using new technology.
3. Regularly sharing how I have used particular Apps during weekly staff meetings, TA meetings and termly governor meetings.
4. Regularly blogging about ‘Maximising learning through iPads’ and taking part in twitter discussions using my Personal Learning Network (PLN)
Review of Process and Outcomes so far
Thus far, children have responded to the statement ‘with the iPad, I feel more motivated and can work better than without it’. 92% of pupils either agreed or strongly agreed with this statement. However, only 50% of teachers agreed with their pupils, with the remaining teachers stating that they were neutral about their pupils being more motivated. Although motivation levels have increased, the gap between pupil premium and non-pupil premium has not dramatically changed. However, NAACE (2012) stated after their year-long research at Longfield that the impact would, in time, result in improvements in attainment. During the process, year six students were preparing for their SATs, which limited the amount of iPad apps and amount of ‘experimenting’ with different techniques.
Professional learning outcomes
The key learning outcomes have been:
1. Identifying and coaching peers who are already trying to implement iPads effectively in their class. I have found that celebrating their success has been very important in building momentum.
2. Collaboration has been essential for this process. I have worked closely with a range of schools to share best practice. I have also used Twitter and blogging to engage with colleagues both in the UK and further afield.
3. Inspiring and influencing others has involved clearly articulating my vision for ICT within the school and ensuring that each teacher not only understands it, but is part of it. I have used Ryan’s (2008) strategy to achieve this.
4. Championing best practice has involved meeting with a range of head teachers and senior leaders from Oxfordshire primary schools. I am also running training on ‘Maximising learning through iPads’ training on the 8th and 22nd of June.
Anderson, M (2013) The Perfect ICT Lesson. Carmarthen: Independent Thinking Press CAS (2013). Computing in the primary curriculum. Available at http://www.computingatschool.org.uk
Elder, Z (2012) Full on Learning. Carmarthean: Crown House Publishing
Fullan, M. (2010). Motion Leadership. London: Sage Ltd Gilbert, I. (2011) Why do I need a teacher when I’ve got google? Abingdon: Routledge
Gilbert, I (2002) Essential Motivation in the Classroom. Abingdon: Routledge
Heinrich, Paul (2012). The iPad as a Tool for Education: A Study of the Introduction of iPads at Longfield Academy, Kent. Available at: http:// http://www.naace.co.uk/
Ofsted (2011). ICT in Schools 2008-11. Available at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/ict-schools-2008-11 Robinson, K. (2015) Creative Schools. London: Penguin
Ryan, W. (2008). Leadership with a Moral Purpose. Carmathen: Crown House Publishing Ltd