It is day three in my quest to hear from every teacher about how it is going with the iPads and I gotta say, I’m tired. Physically tired, yes, as talking for a long time makes my librarian head hurt, but also intellectually tired. Effectively integrating technology in the classroom isn’t exactly hard, but it takes some time and thought, two things that work in tandem (you need time to think, yo).
About to drown in a sea of despair at all the barriers we need to break down and challenges to face, this article brought me back to the shores of hope:
The school has an unconventional take on the iPad’s purpose. The devices are not really valued as portable screens or mobile gaming devices. Teachers I talked to seemed uninterested, almost dismissive, of animations and gamelike apps. Instead, the tablets were intended to be used as video cameras, audio recorders, and multimedia notebooks of individual students’ creations. The teachers cared most about how the devices could capture moments that told stories about their students’ experiences in school. Instead of focusing on what was coming out of the iPad, they were focused on what was going into it.
This warmed the cockles of my heart because the teachers are using it as a tool to useful record, enhance and evaluate students’ work. Now, I know you know I have mentioned this before. But I think the point that the more you figure out how it can be useful to you, the better it will be integrated into the classroom.
I would also venture to say that the most active staff members with the iPad at our school are the ones who are doing exactly like the school in the quote: they are using the whiteboard apps to present and record their lessons to students and then linking them to the portal. They are using the video app to record students work for evaluation. They are using google drive and other collaborative software for group work.
As for digital portfolios for students, I don’t know if anyone is doing that but I think it is an amazing idea!
The author of this article Lisa Guernsey nails it on the head when she concludes:
My lesson from ZIS is that we should make sure we have teachers who understand how to help children learn from the technology before throwing a lot of money into iPad purchasing. It wasn’t the 600 iPads that were so impressive— it was the mindset of a teaching staff devoted to giving students time for creation and reflection. Are American public schools ready to recognize that it’s the adults and students around the iPads, not just the iPads themselves, that require some real attention?