SMART amp drives collaboration in Hawaii

SMART amp Takes Collaborative Learning to a New Level: The `Iolani Experience

Amy Yonashiro, a math teacher in ‘Iolani, Hawaii, spearheaded the roll out of SMART amp software into ‘Iolani classrooms in July 2015. A member of the SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE) program and a longtime user of SMART technology, she recognized SMART amp’s potential to complement ‘Iolani School’s 1:1 initiative. She pitched her administrators and technology team on the idea of implementing SMART amp, which has led to widespread use of the software throughout the school. <

About ‘Ioani

‘Iolani School is a culturally diverse, co-educational K-12 preparatory school for more than 1,800 students and is located in Hawaii. At ‘Iolani, academic excellence and personal growth flourish in an atmosphere that is challenging and competitive, yet caring and nurturing. Through dynamic and personalized instruction in a multitude of disciplines, 'Iolani develops liberally educated, well-rounded individuals who are well prepared for college and ready to assume their responsibilities as active, moral citizens.

The challenge

Like many schools today, ‘Iolani students have access to personal devices in the classroom as part of the school’s One-to-One Initiative, which launched in 2013. Some key drivers for the school’s One-to-One Initiative are:

  • to create a student-driven learning environment,
  • to enhance communication and collaboration, and
  • to promote effective learning and critical thinking.

‘Iolani teachers and administrators aim to make the most of their One-to-One Initiative by leveraging student devices, in this case iPads, in meaningful ways that help personalize the learning process.

“SMART amp came along and it was just perfect. It allows students to become the experts.”

Technology enthusiast and ‘Iolani math teacher Amy Yonashiro supported the initiative from early on.  Yonashiro, a trail-blazer and a 2013 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, is always looking for ways to enhance her students’ learning. As a long-time user of SMART Boards and a member of the SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE) program, she was introduced to SMART amp at the company’s amp Champ training in Seattle in February 2015.  Yonashiro was interested in transforming learning in her classroom from teacher-centered to student-centered. “SMART amp came along and it was just perfect. It allows students to become the experts.”

The solution

SMART amp is cloud-based software that lets students use their devices to co-create and discover digital content. It also enables students to answer questions for formative feedback that provides real-time insight for teachers. Because SMART amp is a web-based platform designed specifically for education, students can collaborate and share ideas in real time – on one large interactive canvas. It requires no installation or updating of apps. It is accessible anywhere, anytime from most internet-enabled devices.

Yonashiro took an immediate interest in SMART amp, recognizing that it would be a great tool to complement ‘Iolani School’s One-to-One Initiative. She realized that SMART amp would help maximize the impact of iPads in the classroom by easily and intuitively enabling student-centered learning. She brought SMART amp to the attention of her administrators and technology teams, who were instantly supportive of implementing SMART amp in the school.

 ‘Iolani Head of School Dr. Timothy Cottrell is one of SMART amp's biggest proponents. “SMART amp is very impressive, and I'm happy with how well it fits within our One-to-One Initiative,” Dr. Cottrell said. “I am also pleased with the affordability and immense value of this complementary solution.”

With such tremendous support from her administrators and tech teams, Yonashiro began implementing SMART amp for a small group of staff and students in spring 2015.  To kick things off she set up two workshops to train teachers on the use of the tools in their classroom. Training went so well that she scheduled three more summer courses, and now more than 30 staff are using SMART amp in grades 3 – 12. The school’s EIL (Education Innovation Learning) staff also participated in the SMART amp training so that they could understand the tool, support teachers on an ongoing basis, and provide 1:1 instruction with the teachers.

The benefits

SMART amp leverages the use of devices in the classroom to improve project-based and student-led learning. Because using SMART amp is so intuitive, even some “technologically shy” teachers see the benefits and welcome the use of SMART amp in their classrooms.

SMART amp offers a simple way to bridge from traditional teaching to student-led models without increasing time “off-task.” It provides teachers with visibility into learning, as learning takes place and in the moment, rather than afterwards. It also meets various learning preferences as well as demands of curriculum applications.

"Teachers in our school are embracing SMART amp and are recognizing its benefits – both for teachers and students,” said Yonashiro. “Everyone is learning in the process. Students become the teachers; and teachers become learners. I used to think this could happen only in an ideal world, but thanks to SMART amp, it's happening here and now."

Yonashiro admitted that when she first saw SMART amp in action, she didn't immediately see how it would apply to her high school math classes. Still, she wanted to be a part of the training to learn how to use and share it with other teachers at her school.  In doing so, Yonashiro quickly realized that SMART amp is a phenomenal tool for teaching math, and she loves spending time coming up with unique and creative ways to use it in class. She says the students love using it too.

Yonashiro commented, “The workspaces our teachers create are engaging and meaningful.  SMART amp is used for both group collaboration and individual work. Some of our teachers use SMART amp to work through the brainstorming, planning, and implementation of class projects which have included creating videos, designing museum exhibits, and creating unit review materials. Our teachers are excited to see how students in a group are able to share their ideas and see what others are thinking and working on in real time. It takes collaborative learning to a new level.”

What's next? 

‘Iolani School is continuing its rollout of SMART amp in grades 3 – 12. This year, nearly a quarter of the school’s teachers are using SMART amp in their classroom, and almost half are now trained on how to use it. Accordingly, Yonashiro expects the number of teacher-users to grow to 40 percent in the 2016-2017 school year. She is also looking to share the benefits of SMART amp with teachers from other schools in Hawaii. According to Yonashiro, “The beauty of SMART amp is that it’s not about getting the most out of devices, it’s about using devices to get the most out of students. And that’s what we are doing every day at ‘Iolani School.”

Learn more about SMART amp

Posted: May 5, 2016
in Customer Stories