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Teachermates: A Tool For Your Classroom

Is your school using Seth Weinberger’s, Innovations for Learning/Teachermates?  If you’ve never heard of teachermates — they are these small, inexpensive, hand-held devices that act as a computer would in the classroom. And during these tough budgetary times for schools, it is certainly worthy of exploring; especially if

your school doesn’t have a substantial technology budget.  And of course, some have argued – and recanted –
it’s not a computer. Who cares? Teachers do not care about the platform, or the terminology. They care that this tool is helping their students;  in schools that cannot afford the technological bells and whistles.  

Teachermate representative, Lisa Spathis, contacted me a few weeks ago with a press release and teacher testimonials about the Teachermate devicesAt a cost of only $100 per unit, Teachermate is the world’s most affordable solution for providing one computer to every elementary school student in a classroom. 

When making a recommendation to my principal at the end of the year about which instructional materials we should use again, I always want to keep the Innovations for Learning tools. They are a big help to me in differentiating instruction for my students.
Ms Tubon, New Field School, Chicago

My first grade students love using the TeacherMates and look forward to using them everyday. The TeacherMates keep the students engaged and I love the fact that the games are aligned with my reading and math books – students are playing games that relate to what we’re doing in the classroom.
Ms. DuBois 

Manierre Elementary
I would like to comment on how much the students in my classroom are enjoying the TeacherMates.  I’ve also noticed the progress all of them have made with the extra exercises they receive with the TeacherMates. The students use them during centers, after they are done with their work, and during individual one-to-one assessments.  They are definitely a teacher’s
mate in the classroom.                                                 
Ms. Partida                                                    
Taylor Elementary

Here are portions of  the press release:

Innovations for Learning, the Chicago-based nonprofit organization that has equipped more than 8000 first grade students in Chicago public schools with its Teachermate handheld computers, has expanded its rollout to include a number of other U.S. cities and abroad.

The effectiveness of Innovations for Learning’s software has been demonstrated by independent research funded by the Spencer Foundation.  The Spencer Foundation is currently funding research by the University of Illinois at Chicago on the effectiveness of the teachermate handheld computers.  The results to date have prompted JP Morgan Chase to promote the rollout of TeacherMate as its premier education initiative, both nationally and internationally through a major initiative of Chase to support literacy and math instruction nationwide

Backed by funding from JP Morgan Chase and the Chicago Community Trust, Innovations for Learning introduced its handheld computers to 250 of Chicago’s 500 elementary schools, with the remaining schools slated to receive the handheld computers in the fall of 2009.  The nonprofit has fulfilled its promise to provide its Teachermate handheld to every student in one classroom in each public school, and to make additional units available for purchase by the school at the nonprofit’s cost. Innovations for Learning also is working with CPS’ eLearning Office to distribute the handhelds and train teachers in its use.

Teachermate can be programmed by a teacher using a personal computer. One connection from the PC to a storage case that holds all the hand-held devices enables the teacher to reprogram them at once and recharge their batteries. It also enables the teacher to download information about the progress each student makes during his or her time playing educational games. "This comes from a need as well," said Weinberger. "Teachermate only works for the kids if it’s simple enough for the teacher too."

In the next several weeks, Innovations for Learning and Chase will complete pilot programs in schools in New York City, Detroit, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, San Antonio, Phoenix, Denver and Round Rock, Texas.  "Innovations for Learning is one of the first nonprofits we have supported under our new initiative to focus our grantmaking on those organizations that are making the most impact in the communities we serve," said Kim Davis, President of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.  "Young children today are growing up with technology all around them, and they will learn more from technology than any previous generation.  The teachermate handheld computer has the potential to provide young students with individualized instruction in a manner that captivates them and can lead to sustained learning."

Closing thought…
I’d be curious to see how Teachermates are being used – in action, so if you’re in the NYC area and are using Teachermates, drop me an e-mail.


  1. I am very interested in using Teachermate with my 4 year old granddaughter but can’t figure out where to purchase it at the best price. Can you help?

  2. Amy Bowllan says:

    Hi Paula,
    Let me take a look around and see what I find. Please e-mail me at

  3. Amy Bowllan says:

    Paula, here’s a link that may be of help to you.

  4. Dr. D.onald Robinson says:

    Please provide a contact name and number where I can purchase the TEACHERMATES. Thanks. drDJR

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