iPad in my classroom

Idea 1: Evernote.

The students at Montclair Kimberly Academy use Evernote to take notes in class and to do their homework. Teachers then comment on their work directly on Evernote. This allows the teacher to provide immediate feedback and to readily access student work whether for grading or showing parents during a parent-teacher conference.

What I propose for our use at Packer is to introduce students to Evernote on their computers and have them use it in every class. All of their work could be organized into folders in Evernote. Then for at least two weeks, have them use Evernote on the iPad. They would take the iPad with them to all of their classes for those 2 weeks. Students could type or use a stylus to write and draw diagrams. A drawing app would be necessary in addition to Evernote. Using the iPad would allow students to draw images and add them directly to their notes. Students could also hand in homework and pick up worksheets by simply tapping their iPad to the teacher’s iPad using the app. Taking notes on the iPad may improve students’ focus because they are only being asked to or allowed to concentrate on one thing, i.e. you can’t have email and Evernote open at the same time on an iPad.

Idea 2: Science Labs.

We do experiments about every other week in seventh grade science. An iPad would be a useful tool in the science lab. It would be easier for students to take video of their experiments and take photos of the organisms or preserved body parts using the camera in the iPad. Just in class today, a student dropped their sheep brain onto their laptop keyboard which is much more difficult to clean up then wiping off an iPad. Prepping the students for dissections using the virtual dissection app would help students feel prepared for the lab and would help them become familiar with the anatomy.

Idea 3: Science textbooks.
Digital textbooks are just beginning to be developed, so this idea is not ready to be tried out in the classroom unless you are teaching ecology–E.O. Wilson created a small textbook that exemplifies the potential of digital textbooks. However, I do think this way of presenting information could be revolutionary with the integration of visual and interactive diagrams.

Idea 4: More ideas, but what app?

As we move towards project-based learning with the strategic plan and taking our classrooms outside the classroom, what app would help my students collect data out in the field? (Numbers app?) They could use the camera to capture images and video things in motion, but what about connecting to probes or making charts from the collected measurements?

The iPad would be a great tool to use out on a field trip since it is so light, durable, and versatile. I wonder if there is an attachment to make it a field microscope?

Or how about using the iPad to create 3-D models of the eye that are anatomically correct?bWhat app would I use?

The Kindle Index

The Atlantic recently put out an article on eReaders that I find particularly interesting for our group. Although it analyzes which cities have emerged as the most aggressive early adopters of eReaders, it also points out that eReading still takes a back seat to reading from physical sources, by far. Most interestingly, they also report that iPad sales far outweigh Kindle and Nook sales. Of course, I can’t know what percentage of time iPad owners spend reading on their iPads. What I do know, however, is that a lot of eReaders have come and gone over the past 10 years. If this trend continues, I wouldn’t be surprised if we reminisce about the days of a single-use device like eReaders – or wrist watches. When Kindle released its Kindle Fire this year, Amazon showed interest in releasing more than an eReader. I wouldn’t be surprised if they release a true tablet soon to stay in this market.

Re: Is class working for you?

On my way home I was thinking about the question posed at the end of class regarding the structure/activities of our TALL Tuesday class.  I think it’s hard to reach the needs and interests of such a large group of teachers that teach different subjects and age levels. So here’s my suggestion… What if we posted on the blog what new topics or Apps we’d like to discuss a week or two prior to our next meeting? The next meeting could be used to go over some of the ideas or issues listed.

I’d rather have a book (but I still love my iPad)

I didn’t have a mirror on hand during our last TALL session, so someone else will have to tell me – did I turn shades of purple when Jim mentioned the article about brick and mortar bookstores becoming defunct?

As a true-to-the-end bibliophile, I can’t envision a world without books (or, for that matter, bookstores). A world where the unadulterated joys of turning physical pages and handling the heft (yes, it’s a good thing) of a physical book are absent is a world I would rather not be in. I understand that e-readers have made the process of reading much more convenient, but I believe the ease with which an act is carried out doesn’t necessarily make it more enjoyable. Hiking, for instance, is a long and arduous process and I’m sure someone might tout the installation of an airline roadway on a nature trail as more convenient, but I don’t think it would make the activity better.

That’s just my personal philosophy on books. The use of technology in classrooms is quite a different matter. I can see all the ways in which devices like iPads and laptops enhance the processes of teaching and learning. The Apple video that Alissa posted certainly made that clear. The one thing that concerns me, however, is that if a teacher wanted to maximize the benefits of technology as the teachers in the video had done, they would have to 1) become experts with their devices, to the point where they could wield them with comfort and unthinking ease, and 2) teach their students how to use them until they could also use them readily. To do this would take considerable time, and I suspect much of this would subtract time from what could have been spent on ‘low-tech’ skills such as note-taking, paraphrasing, and doing foot research. Additionally, if technology is progressing and spitting out new iterations of today’s devices so rapidly, would it be worth it to get them fully trained and acquainted with one, when a newer and better might come out the next year?

Or will paper and pencil someday go the way of Borders bookstores, making technology the sole vehicle for learning?

ibook world

In history classes, most of our use of textbooks is for homework reading – preparation for activities and discussions in the classroom the next day. They rarely are asked to bring their books to class. Depending on the configuration of the history ibook, I could envision them engaging students in more interesting and interactive ways. For example, the ibook could illustrate change over time (like for the spread of a religion or political conquest) in a more dynamic way. Perhaps they could include more interactive representations of historical artifacts (perhaps 3-D) or even include reenactments (a la documentary filmmaking). It seems like some of these are already available – i.e. through the internet or through film. However, to have the resources more centralized, directly resulting from and made explicitly for the book’s curriculum would be much more useful.

Are We There Yet?

This is an interesting video made by Apple in the 1990’s. Some of the concepts and technologies sound remarkably familiar. It’s interesting to notice that we’re still trying to accomplish many of the same goals 15 years later. I’m not really sure we’ve arrived at the finish line with any and I wonder what is holding us back.

True story

The following is a true story.

For the sake of my public and professional dignity, I wish I were making it up, but I’m not.

I was in a restaurant and on my table, there was a standing advertisement for the newest cocktails and desserts. I picked it up and – I kid you not – unthinkingly touched the picture of the dessert. I spent a whole second in complete befuddlement when it didn’t respond to my finger.

I shall coin this disease iPaditis. I know this virus will have reached its full blown stage the day I tap a student’s cheek where their volume (read: mute) button should be. All this to say, I think I’m getting used to my iPad.

On a more serious note, I’ve been using my iPad’s whiteboard apps to make notes on the classroom Smartboard without having to turn my back on the students. Unfortunately, I’ve been finding that the dongle that connects it to the Smartboard has a mind of its own and only projects the iPad after I sprinkle some fairy dust and incant the magic word. And even after it does, the connection is so fickle that it gets lost if I move the iPad around too much. Forgive me, but I just feel like a device this portable should allow me to transport my iPad from at least 2 millimeters away from the Smartboard.

So now I’ve been looking into whiteboard apps that have a remote desktop functionality so I can connect my laptop to the Smartboard as usual, but then wirelessly sync the iPad and laptop. That way, I can write on the iPad from anywhere in the room and have it appear on the Smartboard. There are two I’m considering: Splashtop and Doceri. They’re both considerably more expensive than most other apps, but I think the convenience of mobility is well worth it. Will report back.