Monday, January 31, 2011

Becoming A 1:1 School - Edition 5 - iPads In Mr. Calvin's Class (Guest Post)


Since we have made the decision to go 1:1 with iPads next year, our 1:1 Implementation Committee decided that it was important for our teachers and students to get as much first hand experience as possible between now and next fall. So we purchased a classroom set of iPads for teachers to utilize for either a one or two-week period.  Mr. Calvin's English classes were the first BHS students to utilize these new tools for learning. Mr. Calvin's reflection on the experience follows:

A week with iPads in class

I decided to utilize a classroom set of iPads in the week that led up to midyear exams. In retrospect, the timing was difficult with the ramp up to test, but despite even this hurdle, I found the experiment wildly successful. Here's why:

1. I have never, in all my years teaching, ever had students cheer me for handing out anything. Except for iPads. Wild excitement and joy from students for a learning tool. Unheard of, for me at least.

2. The level of engagement was impressive. My students were, without exception, deeply engaged in the complicated tasks I was asking them to do. To give you an idea, each student had to log into a Google Doc that was shared with students from two other school districts and co-write a major project. This was not light and fluffy work- this was deep critical reading and logistical work. Despite this, students were thrilled to be doing this work.

3. Despite the complex nature of the tasks I asked students to do, they were able to be successful almost immediately even with no training what-so-ever. That's pretty impressive: 45 students, with no prior experience, were able to be highly productive within a few minutes. And less you think I'm mincing words, by "few minutes," I mean under fifteen.

4. We managed to not only do complex group work, but also collaboratively study for the upcoming midyear.

5. Battery life and software management were non-issues. No crashes, no glitches, no hardware or software issues of any type.

There were a few, minor rough patches. These were mostly related to student's unfamiliar nature with the iPads, and would fall away quickly with some more exposure. I'll be looking forward to repeating this experiment later in the year.

This was an unparalleled success. Student enjoyed the work, were engaged at a higher level that I might normally expect, and produced work at a very high level. It's worth noting that this was a positive example for me as well- I was able to be mobile, and interact with students seamlessly and effortlessly. It was nice to see technology work without any noticeable effort.


  1. Great post, Mr. Calvin!!! I, too, ditto the response. I used the IPads in all of my classes last week as well. My students were at ease with this utile device. Since most are familiar with the IPod Touch, they were able to easily maneuver the IPad. I wish that I had them earlier this year as some of the free Apps would have been great for test review. I loved the fact that we didn't have to plug them in to an outlet. We were all free to get up and move with them without worrying about unecessary cords in our way. All in all, a great opportunity for engaing our students in learning.

  2. It's really interesting, and not surprising, that the iPad experiment went well. As you say, it's such an easy-to-use device that also facilitates more engagement with the academic content. It's important to meet students where there at, and that's with mobile devices. If you're looking for a free website and app that students love, check out StudyBlue. We're providing students with online flashcards they can get on their phones, and iPads.

  3. Wow!!! Fantastic news! I can only wish that someday the 1:1 will flow down to the elementary level. Keep the cheers coming.

  4. We would love to encourage you to cross post your experience on Additionally, do you have any interest in joining us as a guest on our podcast?

  5. Scott - we would be happy to cross post and share any of our experiences as we move forward. Also happy to do a podcast. Feel free to contact me here my Google Voice number is accessible here on the blog.