Monday, April 8, 2013

Moving Forward

Like a video going viral, (example 1, example 2) the use of iPads in 4-5 is spreading leaving behind a satisfied smile.  Usage has increased as students experiment during their free time.  Learners are exploring iMovie, Explain Everything, Fetch Spanish, Slice It, and the many QR codes hidden in classroom spaces.  These QR codes link to websites that celebrate student work and highlight conceptual understanding across the content areas.

What is most exciting is the thoughtful integration of iPads in classrooms.  Up to this point, the power of the iPad was being constrained to simple substitution.  Apps were just replacing traditional tools.  As teachers have become more comfortable with the iPad and time has been allocated to focus conversations based on student learning and pedagogy, the possibilities have presented themselves and integration in the classroom has improved.  In the past few weeks, the students of 4-5 have used the iPads to generate documentation in preparation for student-led parent-teacher conferences using iMovie and Explain Everything.  Math classes have used Explain Everything to assess understanding of fraction and division concepts.  Science classes have used Nova Elements to provide a powerful visual of what cannot be seen and to begin an investigation of atomic structure.  Finally, Literature classes have used iMovie and the video recorder to capture reactions to reading assignments.  The common thread in all these applications is that the students are reflecting, synthesizing, and delivering their understanding in real time.  Furthermore, teachers can observe those comments later in the day and lead the students towards new understandings.

All if this activity leads me to think about our classrooms of the future.  If there were to be a 1:1 program, how would that impact our work as teachers and the ecology of learning in the classroom?  With 1:1 on the horizon, we have a real opportunity to redefine how we guide learning and provide instruction (not just content instruction but focused teaching on how to use the tools.)  With 1:1 we can really cater to the individual needs of our students and provide real world scenarios.  It’s time to start imagining how technology can create different roles for teachers and very personalized learning opportunities for students!

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