Monday, February 11, 2013

The Journey with iPads in the Classroom - The Honest Truth

I have been working with Jeff Bernadt (@jbernadt) and Breanne Campbell (@breanneshay) at Bellevue East the past four weeks using iPads in their history and English classrooms respectively. This blog post was created by the three of us with our take aways after a few weeks with them in the classroom.

What we have learned so far....
The iPads are personal devices not laptops. They work best in an ownership model where the students use the same iPad every day.  It takes considerable time to sign in and sign out of accounts when the iPads are shared. Also there is a tendency for students to mess with the settings and saved work of others when iPads are shared. - Ann

Block scheduling at the high school is a must to utilize class time more efficiently. This week when we had blocked class periods due to NeSA testing, the students were able to get so much done in class. It is my hope that when all students receive these devices the district will consider and advocate the need for block scheduling.  I do think, however, that if students had the ability to take the iPads home, the need for block scheduling would not be as great.  - Bre

Just because a student is absent, doesn’t mean she cannot collaborate with her partner. I had a student today who was absent and her partner who was present texted her and they were able to collaborate on their research together. This totally blew my mind.  - Bre

iPads gain valuable class time by minimizing time to transition between activities, hand in homework, and receive quiz/test results.  Additionally, there is no lost class time traveling to a computer lab or waiting to login to a computer.  No longer does lab availability drive when technology can be used in the classroom. Having quick access to the web and creation tools are essential to learning.  It is imperative the iPads be equipped with carefully vetted apps so students are not limited and can synthesize, create, collaborate, and construct new meaning with the information they are studying. These devices can transform learning as we have always known it. - Ann

To fail is to learn!!  What we have learned in failing?

  • Always have Plan B (and C, D, E, F, and G too).  Jeff and I thought we would be able to have students leave comments on Jeff’s website.  We ran into issue with our Internet filters and quickly went to plan B. Instead we had the kids use the back channel at TodaysMeet.com. This turned out to be a hit! We loved the way the back channel worked for the class and we were delighted in how every student had a voice in the discussion!  It was fantastic.  We learned that it is important to roll with things and that there are multiple solutions to issues that arise, we just need to be creative in problem solving. Click HERE for our post on using Todays Meet. - Ann
  • If you want students to have something for a lesson, don’t forget to email it to them. I had students completing Venn diagrams for our Revolution Research project and I forgot to email them the JPEG of the diagram. Some students didn’t even tell me, they just created one in Skitch and went from there. I didn’t realize it until halfway through the project. Oops! (Click here is a link to our post on using Skitch to annotate over charts.) - Bre
  • We failed by not giving the kids enough time to learn the app.  It is important to understand the difficulty for students as they are learning a new app and at the same time they are interacting with new material.  When planning, teachers must plan time to teach the app and build in extra time to interact and play.  Keeping the material and expectations simple the first few times you have students using new apps is key.  I have learned this the hard way on a number of occasions already.  - Jeff

Written by: Jeff Bernadt, Bre Campbell, and Ann Feldmann

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