Three months have now past since I first brought our school’s fifteen student iPads to a class. They have been used for all but three school days since then.
In my role as media specialist at Marshall Simonds, I have been involved in the introduction of many new devices and products to our staff. We have added all the things that educators now believe are vital pieces of technology in the classroom. We have added lots of stuff including SMART Boards, Eno Boards, LCD projectors, laptops, netbooks, FlipVideo cameras, iPod Touches, Mimios, eInstruction systems, Elmos, Discovery Education Streaming, and much more…
I have written on this blog before about how proud I am our staff. The teachers at MSMS have always been willing to try new things. Some of our teachers are very tech savvy and new devices like the iPad are an easy fit into their practices. However, just like in most schools today, many of our teachers are not as comfortable with technology. The great thing about teachers at MSMS is that they always seem willing to try and learn about new things. The staff response to the iPads has been great.
Along with our outstanding classroom use, we have five iPads that we sign out to teachers. Teachers are able to take an iPad for an entire month and explore however they want. We started this in September and the five teacher iPads are now scheduled through April.
Not too long ago, both Bob Cunha and I wrote posts here on the IT Blog about what we hoped would be the potential of iPads in schools. So far, after three months of implementation and use, I am convinced more than ever that iPads are exceeding my expectations.
Since I have worked as the media specialist, nothing we have done has come close to the response for the iPads. They are used everyday, often in different classes throughout the day, and for many different tasks. They have been used in science, social studies, math, and English language arts classes as well as some of our exploratory subjects like music and health. They have been used after school during the Math Olympiad program with Ms. Arcabascio (grade 6 math teacher). We even have a new Activity Block set up by Mrs. DiSipio (grade 8 history teacher) and Ms. Phillips (art teacher) that features the iPads.
I have asked students and teachers what they like and don’t like about the iPads. Many of the concerns often revolve around limitations solved by the recent iOS update. Some other issues are usually more about personal taste. People also often mention concerns that are easily solved or actually just potential problems.
“It can break so easily.”
“I need a keyboard.”
“What if it gets stolen?”
The things people like about the iPads are almost too numerous to write about in this post. For me, what stands out the most is how people constantly mention the simplicity of the iPad and the way that it quickly gets students on task whether they are working on a specific app or online.
“It’s easy to get started with the class.”
“The kids are so excited to use them.”
“The apps are great.”
“They are wicked fun.”
Of course, the kids also say they the iPads are “cool.” I have heard that before from students. Many of our kids think SMART Boards are cool, FlipVideo cameras are pretty cool, even regular iPods are still cool. But this is different…
When was the last time you brought a cart of devices into a classroom and actually heard kids clap? When was the last time your students displayed uncontrollable excitement for the chance to use a device for educational purposes?
Anyone who has taught with iPads knows that they provide fast and easy access to the Internet, great apps that can often be tied directly into the curriculum, and a truly hands-on approach to learning. The iPads have proven to be simple to introduce, simple to teach people about, and easy to explore. I also don’t think there is anything wrong with incorporating a device that gets kids excited to learn partially because it’s so cool.
So what’s my favorite thing about the iPads? The kids using the iPads are excited about and engaged in learning. I have never had students so engaged using a technology product in class. Nothing even comes close.