Monday, 23 September 2013

What can I do with iPads?

On my journey last year as TILT, my focus was on getting devices into the hands of teachers and students and helping users become comfortable navigating the software that Apple technology puts forth.  This year, I feel my role will have much more to do with answering the question, "We have iPads, now what can we do with them?" We all know the value that this technology can bring to teacher instruction and student experience in the classroom, but figuring out how and when iPads should be infused into teaching and learning is definitely a learning journey.  Infusion of technology is not about relying on the novelty of the device to keep kids engaged, it is about extending the learning experience of students so that they can feel empowered, do things they couldn't otherwise without the use of tech, and deepen their understanding of concepts.  That being said, here are a few starting points to meld the use of iPads with all the wonderful things that you are already doing in your classroom:

1- Reporting-  Using the iPad to take photos and blog about experiences in the classroom allows students to have a voice and feel like they are a published author.  I know what it feels like when people have read posts that I have written and put out there, I can only imagine that it would be as powerful and motivating for students to be a reporter live on the scene of their own classroom.  Kids will be motivated to write if they report on something they've done in class and read it with their parents on the web when they get home that same evening. Alternatively, have students take photos using the iPad while on a class trip and create a narrated slideshow of their experience using the PixnTell app.

2- Centre-based learning- iPads can easily be set up as a centre.  With features such as guided access and restrictions, you can safely set up an iPad centre, allowing students to work on concepts that you have already taught while using carefully selected apps.  This will provide you with the time to work with a small group, strengthening areas with which these students may be struggling.

3- Virtual experience-  When you are learning about cultural dances in Africa and can't travel the 13,000 kilometers to witness it firsthand, pop onto the YouTube app, connect your iPad to your projector (using a VGA adapter cable or the Reflector or AirPlay apps) and kids can experience it through digital means.  Use Google Earth to explore places that you are learning about in Geography.  Peruse street level and aerial views of places that students wish to experience visually using the Sphere app.

4- Connectivity- The iPad offers a myriad of opportunities to connect your students to other classrooms. Students can compare cultural similarities and differences through the creation of a digital postcard using the LifeCard app. With this app, they can add photos and text to share their own cultural experiences with a pal many miles away. Get your class signed up on Mystery-Skype to connect with a classroom in the United States.  Students can learn about some of the distinctions and similarities between Canada and the United States through the lens of a student their own age.

5- Creation- This is probably the most fun of all reasons to become buddies with your iPad.  Kids are creative and want to tell stories.  Give them the Toontastic app to create an animated show with their own narration.  Get the Pictello app for students to create a TWAS (This Week At School for those in the senior years) book to send home as a PDF for mom and dad on Friday afternoon.  Use iMovie to create a movie trailer for a book that they've recently finished.  Have students demonstrate their own understanding of a concept by creating a 'how-to' tutorial on Educreations.  There is a wide array of apps for creation. Choose a handful, get to know them really well, and introduce them to your students. Learning the ins and outs of one app a day will broaden your horizons and increase your comfort with infusing them into a lesson plan.

6- Student support- I've already posted about the many ways that the iOS 6 software and apps can be used to support students. Search 'accessibility'and 'student support' on this blog and you will learn about the ways that Apple technology can help students with specific needs.

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