During a recent ‘Walk-Through’ at our school, Charles Carroll Middle School, New Carrollton,
Maryland, we were visited by teams of teachers from Maryland, Apple Executives and Technology Specialists from the D.C. Metro area. The event hosted by the Prince Georges County Public School Title I Department's TEDL (Transforming Education through Digital Learning) Initiative, provided the opportunity for those interested in seeing how schools with 1:1 iPads were implementing their programs. Questions came in the form of, “How are your students producing learning?” In my Science Teacher mind, I saw a food web. Right?!? The image to the right depicts how we used our iPads last year and the one below shows how we now use iPads.
This is our second year of implementation with 1:1 iPads and the ways we use them have taken on so many changes. Our students have grown from consumers using the iPads to research, write reports, use apps like iCell to learn about cells, observed Khan Academy videos
to assist with math algorithms and the calculator to solve them, using and to annotate given assignments to using Twitter to send messages to other students,
to teach other students in like courses, Educreations to post videos accessible to anyone, StoryKit to write books about current topics, Blogs to communicate ideas or pose questions, Prezi to make presentations just to mention a few.
We have evolved into producers this year, so answering the visitors’ questions was as simple as having them scan a QR Code of students’ assignments. At the time, my students were using an iBook I created for my students to use during our unit on Human Biology and Health. The visitors talked with the students and in turn, the students showed them what they were working on at the time which happened to be the digestive system. The students were annotating an image of the digestive system as an outline for a book they were making using StoryKit. Their story was titled, “What Happens to a ______________.” and the students had to write a story in StoryKit that included the digestion of what ever the food source was they chose.
The "Culture of Learning" has changed in our school. Teachers are facilitators, assisting students with learning instead of lecturing students. Students are producing their learning digitally and posting it so others can gain access and learn from them. It is exciting to watch them search for further information, then dig further to understand their findings. Even more exciting is when they share and assist other students so they gain a better understanding of concepts and connections to the real-world.
As I talked with all the professionals that visited my classroom that day, I realized that we were a very unique school. Our first year was a year of exploring, learning how to utilize the 1:1 iPads and media we were so fortunate to have. Our second year marked a
new era that brought the pedagogy needed to implement educational instruction
with the iPads. The new era was brought about by our participation as a VILS (Verizon Innovative Learning School) and the professional development coupled with the resources we gained. Using the iPads for the sake of just “using” them is useless when providing good instruction. Incorporating instructional goals with instructional strategies based on our teaching philosophy has brought about a change school-wide. We, the VILS teachers, have reached out to our colleagues to provide professional development on ways to use the resources from Thinkfinity to promote learning as well as strategies to use with the iPads.
What is next for year three? I can only imagine the possibilities!
a. joy long