Hamline Elementary School 5th grade teacher Diane Smith received iPads for each student in her St. Paul, MN classroom this year. She had previously used one iPad in her classroom as a visual aid, but the opportunity for her students to each interact with a tablet opened up so many new learning opportunities. Then Diane learned her school was selected as a Verizon Innovative Learning School (VILS), and she knew the potential for this new tool was limitless.
In June 2013, the Verizon Foundation and the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) selected Hamline Elementary School as a recipient of a $50,000 grant to help students develop the skills to support higher education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The grant provides Diane and her colleagues with two years of on-site and virtual innovative training led by ISTE. The training is designed to prepare teachers to incorporate mobile technology into classroom learning with strategies that support STEM courses.
The Verizon Foundation launched the VILS program in 2012 to support 12 underserved STEM schools across the country in their goal to have their students STEM-ready for the future. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, by 2018 there will be approximately 18 percent growth in careers that require education in STEM fields.
The year-one impact in classrooms across the country led to the program’s expansion in 2013. The Verizon Foundation doubled the number of grant recipients to 24 schools that reach more than 12,000 students with STEM education.
Diane is witnessing first-hand how mobile devices are powerful learning tools in her classroom. She is able to tailor lesson plans to meet students at their individual education levels and provide immediate assessments. Diane says seeing results in real time has been extremely helpful, “Our students are making better and faster progress — it’s amazing.”
Shayd, a student in Diane’s class, has excelled in math since the first day of school. A shy student, Shayd has been more willing to take risks when she is working one-on-one with her iPad. As a result, her basic math skills have dramatically increased, and she is highly motivated to take on the next challenge.
A true highlight for Diane is seeing her students’ pride in their new skills and witnessing them set and achieve goals. Her students have become more empowered and active in their education. “I’m so excited to continue the virtual training sessions and learn more that I can share with my students,” Diane said.
For more information about the Verizon Foundation’s VILS program, visit http://www.verizonfoundation.org/our-focus/.
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