Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The One Where I List What iPads Changed For Me

Last September I started using 1:1 iPads my classroom. Over the past few months I've had my share of successes and failures. To say this has been the largest growth of my teaching career would be a tremendous understatement. These are the Top Five ways "Our iPad Classroom" has changed my teaching:

1) Students as teachers! No teacher knows everything. Even me. As much as I like to pretend sometimes that I know the answer to everything, I simply don't. Using 1:1 iPads, I've had many students come up to me with App usage questions. As much as I am able to help them, just as often, I have no idea how to do what they are asking. 

This is where my students have grown into technology leaders. I will usually ask, "Who knows how to (for example) add text to a picture in edit mode in iMovie?". Usually 5-10 hands will go up and I direct the student to seek the answer with one of them. Students LOVE feeling helpful/useful/knowledgeable and "knowing more than the teacher does" is a BIG confidence booster for them! It is a win-win-win situation!

2) Creating Creative Creations! While my students still handle an occasional worksheet (usually digital), my class has definitely moved more towards CREATING products to show their knowledge of curriculum. Geometry in the Real World iMovies, Explain Everything Story Summaries, and Tellagami Vocabulary Videos are just a few examples of my students using multiple levels of intelligence to showcase their knowledge across the curriculum. Once these projects are created, that leads me to the next classroom transformation....

3) Breaking Down Classroom Walls! These projects are great and would be fine just sitting on their iPads. However - students almost always do better and put in more effort if they know more people are going to see the work than just their teacher and maybe their parent(s). Let's face it - the same goes for most adults. A lot of us will put in extra effort if we know a large audience will be seeing our work rather than just 1-2 people. YouTube, eMail, and Google Drive have allowed us to take these wonderful creations and easily share them with parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, and other educators. 

I have a student who is pretty good at Math. She created an iMovie to showcase her knowledge of geometry. She also created music to accompany it using Garageband. Her music was AMAZING and her video has been seen and commented on by her mom, aunt, grandma, classroom teacher (me), music teacher, as well as several other teachers from across America. Talk about enthusiastic! I share this with my class as an example of what can happen when you create something "Worthy of the Web".

4) 95% Paperless! Paper is at a premium and I'm proud to say that we have figured out ways to go almost completely paperless in our class. Google Drive, Notability, etc. have allowed my students to take tests, complete daily work, and display their knowledge of content all without using a single sheet of paper. 

5) From Teacher-Centered to Student-Centered! This is a move that I have been hesitant to make for a long time. It always felt to me like a student-centered classroom involved me giving up classroom control. The iPads have allowed my to act as more of a coach, letting the students work on their projects while moving around and guiding them when necessary. It also allows kiddos the ability to work ahead and move beyond grade level - truly differentiating their learning. Giving more Project-Based assignments allows each student the opportunity to work at the level they are at. With the integration of technology into these projects, it allows some students to shine who otherwise may not have had many chances in a traditional classroom.

So - Where do I go from here? There are several Apps I've had for awhile that I've never used with the students. The top of the list? Explain Everything. There is also a fairly new App called Stick Around (#StickAroundApp) created by Tech Guru Tony Vincent @tonyvincent ( that looks very promising to use with my students to assess what they know about certain content. 

I plan to use the same philosophy I had in the first semester: Slow and steady wins the race!