Here are a few of the comments:
“Behaviour problems decrease because the students who need tactile engagement get it.”
This is a good point,as it showcases how the iPad can be a real ally in the challenges with differentiated learning.
“7th grade behaviour is very rude when it comes to turning off their devices. They are not self-regulated at all.”
Aaah. The big one. I think our major lesson learned this year (and one that was supported by my surveying the Grade 7s) was that we need to teach our incoming students how to manage their technology in a healthy, respectful way. Our IT committee has begun brainstorming some simple, uniform methods of classroom management. I think we need to make it clear to the students what our expectations are at the beginning of the year. I am also working on a workshop for students on tips to avoid distraction during classes.
“Behaviour problems decrease because it allows them to be on task. They don’t have to wait for me or each other and can go off and do their thing…As long as they have something to work on they are good.”
A few teachers mentioned this and I think it goes with the last comment. When are students most prone to get distracted? Alas, when you are lecturing. If the students are busy and engaged with the tasks they need to complete in class they are less likely to get distracted. Now, sometimes lecturing is unavoidable ( I do it all the time. Just ask my kids). But if it is possible to keep it to a minima, then switch it up with an exercise or a task with a set time limit on it, that seems to work the best.
“Behaviour increases a little because it is tempting. It takes a lot of discipline even as an adult. It takes a will power to resist.”
I like this comment because it acknowledges the very prescient fact that it is not only kids who need to manage their distraction with technology. As adults we are equipped with better tools and more practice at discipline than a 12 year old. It is important to remember that these are skills they have to learn and we have a major role in teaching it to them.
“Student behaviour: with the grade elevens there is a change. They get very engaged [when we use relevant movies or youtube clips.] It helps to calm them down.”
The older grades tend to have less problems with the iPad then the younger grades as the following quote illustrates:
“I tried the whiteboard app [with the grade 7s] and for the first ten minutes was fine but then they started fooling around. Or they will go change the answers of another group.”
The latter part of this quote is the most disturbing and has more to do with the bad etiquette side of behaviour and even bordering on bullying. The collaborative aspect enabled by the iPad only works if people trust each other. Google docs, real time whiteboard apps where the class can brainstorm, depends on a strict adherence to this one rule: never be a jerk. It is jerky behaviour to erase other people’s answers and we should send a clear message that it is not tolerated.
“[There is] more distraction with the iPads. [I] have yet to find an efficient classroom strategy for iPad management. Getting the students to put it away is hard. I am sick of policing their use. Are they going to get better with time in terms of respect? The change will have to come from me and the way I teach in order to make no room for distraction. I must adapt my own teaching.”
I love this last comment. The teacher acknowledges it is a problem that is not going away and that simply putting your foot down with prescriptive rules will not solve it. In fact I heard this from several teachers- that the iPad is going to force them to rethink the way they conduct their classes, they prepare their lesson plans.
All in all, the issue of student behaviour with the iPad is not as dire as we thought it was. Many teachers claim there are less problems when the students are dynamically engaged in a task.
I just want to go on record to say that I don’t think this is earth-shattering news. I think it has always been that way- students are more engaged when they are occupied. The only difference is that there are now so many ways to to do this at your fingertips.
Thank you very much to the wonderful Traf staff for taking the time to talk to me and for being so honest. I think we learned a lot about what is working and what is not working and what we can do in the future to make it better!
Next: The grade 7 iPad survey!