I am learning to love the iPad.
In Year 6 this year, each student has their own iPad while in school. Last year, each class had a trolley of laptops. Over the previous three years, I had reached a level at which I could get my students doing very creative things using their laptops. We reached a point where their relationship could shift from being purely content consumers, to being content creators.
At the start of this year, with the laptops gone, it was like having the rug pulled out from under my/our feet. Suddenly, I didn’t know how to do anything. I couldn’t seem to create anything myself, never mind teach my students how to.
Slowly, but surely, that is changing. Not only are we all starting to create again, we are also learning how to share what we create more quickly and effectively. We are able to conduct research more quickly and effectively… simply because we can get an iPad going instantly. We are able to capture learning using photos and videos more quickly and effectively. The list goes on, as you probably know.
The most profound change, however, has been in the way we use devices in general. The pictures in the posting tell their own story. They show iPads sitting next to highlighter pens, notebooks, pencil, index cards and all the other “tools of learning”. The students are naturally picking up their iPads in order to do a specific job and then… wait for it… putting them down again. The simplicity of the device, the subtlety of its design and it’s quick functionality have helped it simply blend in with everything else we use for learning.
It’s not perfect, and some things are still a bit annoying, but I reckon this could be closest so far to technology simply being another learning tool.
Technology is great. But, there’s only a few technology innovations that really do open up a myriad of possibilities that cannot be done easily on a bit of paper or with other, more traditional methods!
Voicethread is one of them.
Click on the image above to read an outstanding article about Voicethread and to get loads of ideas for how Voicethread could be used in your teaching.
This video clip is actually a commercial for a mobile phone provider. However, it offers us a rather sobering provocation through it’s powerful use of visual imagery.
It makes me think of all the things that pass us by these days as we spend so much of our time “plugged in”. It makes me think of the missed conversations with people standing right next to us, the missed formative moments in a child’s life as their parents text, email, browse or update.
It also made me think about my teaching, and the time and place for technology. How often do I respond to an unimportant email and miss out on a very important teaching moment?
I dropped by Year 5 today, starting in Kate’s classroom, and found students reflecting on the presentations they have been doing for their parent audience over the last few days. The Y5 teachers were pretty “pumped up” about it and really wanted to talk about it because they felt it had been an excellent experience, and that the whole process of the unit had really empowered the students to do really effective, informal presentations that demonstrated their conceptual understandings.
The process of the unit looked like this:
- The unit started with rotations in which teachers demonstrated 5 different presentation techniques – both formal and inforaml – and 5 possible areas of inquiry
- The inquiry process helped students develop conceptual understandings, which made them able to focus their presentations instead of just listing random facts
- Research skills were taught in homeroom and in library sessions to enable them to focus on relevant and important information
- Parents were invited in to see presentations and demonstrations. They were ”converted” from passive observers to active participants by being given sample questions to ask the students
- Presentations were filmed in some classes to enable students to watch themselves sharing their work and assessing how they presented themselves.
Watch this space for more information about this!