Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 1 with the iPads

Today is the first day that our students are using their iPads in class.  I spent the day visiting classrooms to see how our teachers were using the device.  Not surprisingly, I saw a wide variation in usage.

In 6th grade science, students initially used Evernote to document their observations of Grow Dinos over 4 days.  The students used scientific measurement tools to determine the weight, height, length, and surface area of the sodium polyacrylate dinosaurs. The dinos will slowly grow when placed in water, and students will chart the changes.  By the afternoon class, some students realized that they could create a chart within Pages to easily document their findings.  They could then attach the Pages document to an Evernote note and share it with their teacher.

In 8th grade language arts, students had to write reflections of their summer reading, Boy with the Striped Pyjamas and Night.  The teacher asked that they hand write the assignment so that he could collect it at the end of the period.  Many students had electronic copies of the novels that they accessed via their own Kindle accounts.  The could easily refer to passages from the text using their iPad.  In the coming weeks, they will be writing papers with Google Docs and keeping a writing journal through Evernote that they will share with their teacher.

Some classes treaded lightly with the iPads.  I liked the 7th grade science class that began with a writing prompt: What do you hope to learn in science this year?  Students asked what application they should use to answer the prompt, and the teacher told them to use whatever feels comfortable.  When they were finished writing, they shared their responses and which application they selected.  This served to educate both the teacher and the students as to what is available.

Many classes I visited were not using the iPads at all because you don't always have to fix what's not broken.  With the help of peers and students, those teachers will find a use for these devices as the year progresses.

What I think students enjoyed most today was that they were trusted to find what works, to help their peers, and to educate their teachers.  It might be a stressful time for some, but I think it's great that we are all learning something new.

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