The students in Kelly Flowers’ first-grade classroom at Henry Clay Elementary School in Chicago happily spend part of each day in complete silence. They turn off the lights, put on their headphones, and become absorbed by the small blue machines they hold in their hands, pressing buttons in response to the interactive games and activities they see on screen.
Simple to use, durable, and relatively inexpensive at $100 each, a little device called the TeacherMate is revolutionizing the way Ms. Flowers teaches and assesses her students. She tracks kids' performance weekly on her own laptop, and updates the games, levels, and skill sets for each student's TeacherMate, ensuring their smooth progress through the school’s math and reading curricula.
While students work silently on their own, Ms. Flowers is free to tutor children individually or in small groups, which is normally difficult when helming a classroom full of 7-year-olds.
Ms. Flowers and her techno-savvy first graders are not the subjects of a curious case-study. They are active participants in the early stages of an educational revolution.
THE TECH REVOLUTION IN CLASSROOMS
According to Fast Company, TeacherMate is currently being used by 500 schools in 15 states. Companies such as Google, Nokia, Palm, and Sony supply thousands of similar educational devices to schools in the United States and abroad each year. The nonprofit organization One Laptop per Child provides more than 1.3 million computers to children in underserved communities worldwide. Laptops, already ubiquitous in college classrooms, will soon be joinedby smaller handheld devices like the iPad.