So…the year is ending, and I am trying to reflect on my experiences with my iPad pilot class. I’m grappling with questions like:
What did I learn?
What did the students learn?
Was it worth it?
When I look back at my posts from the fall, I notice I had at least one rather simple goal-to see if we could replace all the “school tools” in a student’s backpack in with apps. In the end, that was the easy stuff. I would say we can create a digital backpack to replace the literal backpack. Along the way this year, I have found apps to cover almost the entire range of tasks a student needs to do. And with the emergence of ibook texts this year, students no longer need to carry the heaviest items in a backpack. Who would have thought this was possible 18 months ago-a class without paper, pens, or publications?
Next post-the hard stuff.
Recently my environmental science iPad pilot class used the Pages app (yes, the same program Mac users are familiar with) to create invasive species posters. These are not just any posters, but “NOT Wanted” posters. I can’t claim this is my idea, as environmental science teachers have issued this assignment for years–just do a quick Google search. The basic idea was to produce posters about invasive species on our campus made in the spirit of old west (USA) “Wanted” posters for notorious criminals.
NOT Wanted Poster Example
My students were able to create beautiful posters with relative ease on the iPad2. Then, I had the students put up the posters all over the Kindergarten Hall in our school. After about a week of letting the younger students see the posters, my students came in to teach a brief lesson on invasive plants. The students designed and led the lesson.
Senior Teaching Kindergarten
Then, the older students organized the students into groups and took them outside to tag the invasive plants pictured on the posters. Each student was given a small piece of colored flagging tape to tie around a plant.
Tagging Invasive Bamboo
The Kindergarteners were told that they were tagging the plants so that older students could come cut them down on Earth Day. And, indeed, older students from our service club came out to remove the invasive plants.
Students Remove Wisteria
Did the iPads make the difference? No, of course not. But, it was nice to be able to create and revise the posters without booking the computer lab. My students, most of whom had never used Pages, loved the Page app and were impressed with the professional looking posters they produced. Me, I was thrilled to see my seniors engaged at a time of the year when they are ready to check out…
*You can read more about the project and see a slideshow of the students in action here.