Pitting teachers against education technology makes for salacious headlines. But this false choice is designed to stir up negative emotions and distract from promising innovations. The real question is, can we create new learning environments where the “whole” of the student experience--offline, online and everything in between--is better than what existed before?
Aspire Titan is a K-5 public charter school in Huntington Park, CA serving 324 students (100% Hispanic / 96% free and reduced lunch). The school is in its second year of implementing a classroom model where, in its simplest form, students rotate among three centers during literacy and math: 1) teacher-led small group lessons, 2) independent reading and writing and 3) independent online work.
Small Group Lessons
Teachers dramatically shifted their instruction by increasing critical reading and text-based discussions from once-a-week, as required by the home office, to a daily offering — a five-fold increase. This shift has profound implications for students. Nationally-renowned reading expert Dr. Richard Allington found that the highest-performing classrooms spend the most time, sometimes as much as 70% of class time, reading and responding to what they read, leading many educators to monitor the ratio of authentic reading and writing to “other stuff.” (qtd. in Schmoker, Results Now. 98-99). Aspire used its new classroom model to aggressively improve its ratio of authentic reading to “stuff.”