Technology in the classroom is at the top of the teaching trends list and so is teaching using iPads. It’s important to take a look at some tactics for educating students when introducing new technology in the classroom.
We are not an iPad-saturated district. In fact, we have intentionally not implemented this model as we feared that iPads would become dust collectors, picture frames or bookends. Assuming teachers will know what to do with them is a completely false assumption.
Our model has been one of control, training, coaching and reflection. Not everyone in our district receives a cart of iPads. Out of approximately 800 teachers, 16 have sets of 30 iPads.
Our teachers voluntarily undergo six intense days of Apple Foundations Training. (Our district has two Apple Certified Trainers, myself and my colleague Ann Feldmann.) These sessions focus on the MacBook’s operating system, iLife, iWork, mobile learning and the SAMR model.
These trained teachers apply to our pilot iPad Academy program. As part of the academy, teachers receive a cart of iPads for a 1:1 environment. Then they learn how to manage the devices, implement the iPads on a daily basis, and begin working with a coach. Applications are reviewed by district coaches and our Director of Technology Greg Boettger (@gkboettger).
Chosen teachers are assigned a coach who works side by side with them throughout the year. I am one of these lucky coaches. Coaching has enabled me to make some discoveries about what happens when iPads are used effectively in the classroom.
After having been through the cycle completely, there are some things I know for sure will occur this school year with our new batch of iPad Academy participants.
What iPads Will Bring to Our Schools
1. The Need for Reflection
Reflection becomes a key piece of this experience. Being able to look back, analyze and rethink how something was done only brings us closer to being effective digital teachers. Some of our tools for reflections are Google+ communities and Hangouts, Twitter, using the #ipadacademy hashtag, teacher blogs, and periodic face-to-face meetings with the entire group. As educators, we understand the importance of reflection.
However, as the years pass and we master our routines, reflection is often overlooked and underutilized. As a trainer, I get to push teachers to reflect, discuss and rethink their instruction. It is amazing to watch their teaching change as a result of quality reflection time.
2. Pacing Ourselves
Helping our teachers realize that the pace of their instruction must slow down while the iPads are being introduced is critical for a successful iPad rollout. One teacher stated this week, “OK. I know. I tried to do too much.
” After introducing the iPads and also trying to accomplish curriculum goals all in 45 minutes, this teacher recognized that it just isn’t possible! Once the students know how to get around the device and utilize specific apps, then the curriculum pace can increase. But not until then.
3. Dealing with Obstacles
Moments of rethinking how we deliver instruction, assess students and collect their work creep up immediately once iPads are in students’ hands. This creates discomfort for teachers, but they must overcome being their own obstacle for change.
As one teacher asked, “How do I grade their packet of notes for review now that their work will be in Google Drive?” I replied, “Well, how can you arrange it differently so that they apply knowledge instead of just copying it in a packet?” This is some food for thought when teaching using iPads.