Saturday, April 23, 2011

Counterpoint to my ipad rant

My keyboard wasn't even cold yet before I had my first comment on my ipad rant. Tony took exception to my viewpoint and here is his response. It's in the comments area, as well, but I wanted to give it more 'air.' 

BTW - do you also think I'm way off base? Convince me. Tell YOUR story in the comments.

"Here is an example of using the iPads to improve instruction without any apps other than the Safari web browser that comes with the device: Let’s say I am teaching the concept of warm blooded vs cold blooded animals. At or near the end of the lesson, I can have the kids quickly turn on their iPads and go to a bookmarked Google form that I call a discussion form. It is nothing but a place for the child's name and a text box. I then ask them a question to test their understanding of the main concept. The kids know that their name will not appear on the LCD projector but I can see who says what on my screen. What this does is allows me instant feedback of who still needs more instruction or who is not getting it. It is hard to visualize without seeing it in action but I can walk around the room with my device right up to the struggling kids because I know instantly who they are as they submit the Google form. I have been able to actually help struggling students gain understanding in real-time. Now if a bunch of kids are struggling with the concept then I might have to re-teach the content in a new way (which has happened). However it is better that it happens during the instruction than at test time. Now how is the iPad better at this than a laptop? Well again, it is instant on with no log-in required for this. I have 3 science classes and all they do is leave the device on the desk. A bulky laptop on a desk leaves little room for books and just did not work when we left them there for the next class. I have also found that the kids really type faster on the iPad keyboard allowing me to offer thick questions with generous expectations of text and still not cut out a lot of instruction time. Lastly, all the responses are put into a spread sheet by Google Apps for a permanent record of how well my instruction went to allow me to reflect on how I will approach the lesson next year. And I will give you one more benefit that I did not expect. I had a student who was sick for a test. So I let him take it when he came back the next day. He did not do well at all so I looked back in his formative assessment data from the Google spreadsheet over the instruction period. It turns out that all the data proved that he understood the concepts well. So it made me think that he was perhaps not feeling well yet and I let him re-take the test the next day. He got an A. Needless to say that I am excited with implementing this new technology right now and I have several other examples which I think are unique to my classroom which I will talk about as I perfect them. I am not trying to push the iPad by any means, however for now it seems like the best device for my way of instruction. I am sure another device will come around that might offer even more benefits. But the kids really do like these things and after 5 weeks, have still not tired of them. I will keep you posted. Thank you Jim for letting me share."

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