Our external evaluator, David Reider, conducted post-trial interviews with the teachers. The following are teacher comments on the impact the tablets had on their classrooms and their own teaching. Responses were grouped (by our evaluator) into categories reflecting the areas of interest to teachers.
"… you see all the other kids go back and do their problems over … They would never do that otherwise."
"When you hear them explaining each others' work in front of the class, you know they've learned the concept, and then you see all the other kids go back and do their problems over and send to me. They never would do that otherwise."
"… makes it easier to find out who's behind, who needs help …"
"Looking at their work as a whole makes it easier to find out who's behind, who needs help. I can't do it that fast in other subjects, you know, know who's missing out on the explanation... without technology."
"You could even tell who was goofing off"
"Really looking at everyone['s work] quickly was so helpful, figuring out who's ahead, who's behind, you could even tell who was goofing off. I mean I know these kids by now, but the information on my tablet really let me see the whole class while I was teaching up front."
"… an interaction between students and how they felt about the problem"
"I loved the [audio] recording feature. I would do it; you could tell if there was an interaction between students and how they felt about the problem, maybe describe in ways they can't or won't write about."
"… they feel freer"
"The reality is they just can't type, or are very slow and full of mistakes. I mean getting them to write and submit would take a whole class period. I think they think it's also closer to their notebooks so they feel freer..."
"Using the pen made it fun for them; it's something familiar"
"You saw my [SPED] kids they would have a really hard time typing out what they wanted to say, except [student name]. Using the pen made it fun for them; it's something familiar, and when they submitted their work, I'm sure it gave them confidence that their work was just as good as the next [person's]."
"Seeing them draw lets me understand what they know much better than a simple answer in a box. Sure they could do this on a worksheet, but it's so much faster, more convenient. I can save it all, and everyone else can see the examples if I put them on the screen later. It's really easy for them."
it's so much faster, more convenient"
"show me how they're working through a problem, not just giving an answer"
"I really like how they can circle their drawings or numbers to emphasize what they want me to see, or better yet, to show me how they're working through a problem, not just giving an answer."
Adapting to Classroom Technology
"In fact I think it's easier because of the pen."
""We have SMART boards, the kids all use computers, so it's not a stretch for them. In fact I think it's easier because of the pen. They can learn anything technology [-related] really quick. Using it in math was a surprise for them at first since they haven't really done that before, but then it seemed normal to them after a few days."
"they're small [tablets] and today's students, even this young, are thinking portable"
"They really liked how the computers were just a notebook; I think that helped blend them into the classroom for a lot of kids. They love drawing and enjoyed seeing the colors and lines. They loved the stamps; you saw how crazy they got in the beginning. But also, they're small [tablets] and today's students, even this young, are thinking portable; they see it at home, they will expect it at school. Watching me walk around the class with my computer, it's natural for them."
Motivation and Engagement
"… all their work is on it and I really think they were less distracted"
"They really were engaged, both with the tablets and the guest teacher, but I know they really loved working on the computers. It's different for them, but it provided a very particular focus, which is what these kids respond to... they have such a narrow field that looking at the tablet, I saw them look at it like a window, and all their work is on it and I really think they were less distracted"
"They loved that they might be chosen to be the example"
"They loved that they might be chosen to be the example, to have their work up there in front of the class and to talk about it. That was a big part of their motivation. It's just different than with other paper and pencil, ELMO [document camera]... it's fast and there are other students' work up there, kind of like part of the class is on the screen."
"it was a lot easier this year"
"I have to do a lot when I teach the class--keep everything under control, look at my tablet, explain the subject, select student work, and find out who needs my help. But it was a lot easier this year. I don't know why, maybe because I'd done it before. I like being able to see what everyone's doing from my tablet with the little diagrams."
"That really helps me keep everyone on task"
"I always walk around, so this is really good for me. The students are used to me doing that, looking over their shoulder, but here it's more efficient; I can see who's submitted what in time and who has not. I can take [the tablet] with me to check on the kids. That really helps me keep everyone on task. I don't think they could just follow instructions and sit by themselves at the computer for an entire period."
Sharing Student Work
"They're more interested in talking about it if it's their own"
"I like the whole class sharing because it gets everyone discussing the lesson. I still like picking out the samples and having a whole-class discussion and putting up several slides; that's nice; it's a nice way for kids to share their work. They're more interested in talking about it if it's their own."
"I've seen more kids participate than when we use the overhead"
"I like how you can make it anonymous because it's safer for some kids, especially the shy ones. I think it's a good thing; I've seen more kids participate than when we use the overhead. If they want to be known, they just yell out 'that's mine!'"
"have a small group … discuss who's right or wrong and come to a group consensus"
"Kids sharing their audio in small groups--they feel much safer than with everybody I think because they know all the others in the group will share theirs, so it's a matter of fairness. I think one way to use the audio is to have a small group listen to everyone's then discuss who's right or wrong and come to a group consensus, then share out to the class."
"I really think it could become a normal part of my workday"
"I think after a few classes, I know what to expect. I looked at the student work after school from home and it wasn't too bad. I'm in the middle of this with you guys, so I'm prepared to put in that work, but I really think it could become a normal part of my workday. I mean, everything they submit is online, and I don't need to carry folders home."
"This would take the place of grading other kinds of work"
"It's a lot of files to sift through, but I'm getting better at it, especially clicking on the students' name and getting their work is really easy. This would take the place of grading other kinds of work. During the class, it doesn't take more time, I don't think."
Choosing Student Work for Discussion
"It helped me address problems and not watch the kids waste the whole period doing it wrong"
"I liked that I could [show] six examples at once; it helped me address problems and not watch the kids waste the whole period doing it wrong. I found examples that showed at least one correct way alongside a few that were not correct; the kids need to see that contrast."
"… they pay attention to what each other is thinking, not just the answer."
"When all the students see an example of one of their classmates, like a number sentence with different parts circled, they pay attention to what each other is thinking, not just the answer, so that gets a good conversation going. I'm always looking for one with a lot of red circles or boxes that shows the student is highlighting something so others can see."