Reform Symposium Wrap-Up
Yesterday I posted the PPT presentation that Russ Goerend and I used for our session at the Reform Symposium on Saturday night. Today, after having seen a tweet from Steven Anderson I discovered that the recordings of the session were now posted and available online. So, for those of you wanting to re-live the thrill of our session, or catch it for the first time (or catch it again for the first time…a bizarre/absurd phrase that I’ve cribbed from some commercial from the ’90s. If anyone can help me remember which one, I’d greatly appreciate your input…all my Google searches have been fruitless), here it is.
A New iPad!
Transitioning to an entirely different note, today I acquired an iPad. Thanks to the generosity of my school, I’ve been able to get this tool and have started thinking about how it could be used in various ways in my classroom. I really appreciate the opportunity to explore the iPad educational potential and hope that I’ll figure out some neat ways that it will play an integral role in helping my students’ learning and engagement.
I’ve come across a few interesting resources related to the use of iPad in an educational context and have also drawn some other ideas from educators in my Twitter PLN. I’ll hopefully be putting together a post dedicated to this precise topic in the next few weeks before the school year kicks off that will reflect my thoughts and experiences using it during these waning weeks of summer.
One idea that I took from Russ Goerend in a conversation we had before our Reform Symposium keynote is using the Simplenote app as a way to quickly and simply track a variety of things in one’s classroom — reading progress, behavior, success on assessments, and the like. To these ends, I can see using the iPad as a tool that will help me quickly gather and organize thoughts about my lesson plans and student observations. If I’m able to have the iPad readily accessible in my classroom and consistently make concise notes about students and their progress, I’ll be ahead of the game in terms of putting together comments at the end of the first quarter.
Similarly, I also see the Dragon Dictation app as one that will help me work through my comment writing (or dictation, possibly) process more expeditiously. Today I attempted to dictate a sample comment about a hypothetical student with a degree of success — success being measured by how much tweaking/revising I’d have to do to make the comment accurate and grammatically correct. Interacting with the Dragon Dictation app on the iPad is much more pleasant than doing so on the iPhone, due primarily to the iPad’s faster processor and larger screen. Although having to email myself the finished text might be a slight hassle, I ultimately think I’ll come out ahead time-wise by dictating and editing versus typing. I guess we’ll see!
(An alternative, and entirely un-iPad related thought regarding comment writing comes from ProfHacker, which had an interesting post about using Text Expanding programs to quickly write commonly-used phrases — something with which student comments are often filled.)
In my browsing thus far it seems like many of the suggestions for using the iPad focus on an elementary audience. This PPT presentation, entitled “12 Interesting Ways* to use an iPad in the Classroom”, has some interesting ideas about using the iPad for writing practice, making shapes, and making music — concepts that I’m not commonly engaged in teaching. The PPT does, however, have some suggestions that are applicable to multiple grade levels as it highlights the functionality of the Wolfram Alpha app and the GoodReader app.
However, if I can find a really nice screen mirroring program (or if this feature comes along in the iPad OS 4 update) I can see a lot of use for the iPad Google Earth app, which makes flying to various parts on the globe and exploring terrain, climate, and resources much more immediate than doing so on the computer. Although the computer version of Google Earth is more robust (e.g. able to make narrated tours, use 3D layers, etc.), being able to immediately fly to a particular region I’m discussing in World History could be extremely useful as I push students to, for instance, think about the role that the environment played in settlement or migration patterns.
So, I hope to have a follow-up post fairly soon as I develop a clearer sense of the various apps available for the iPad and how they could function in my classroom. If you’ve already had success using the iPad in your class, or have come across great apps that you can see yourself using this fall in your classes, I’d love to hear about them. Similarly, if you know of good resources that have already been compiled about using the iPad in the classroom, I’d also love to know about those. Thanks!