iPads in the Classroom: Day One

I am writing to document the beginning of my journey into iPad integration in my classroom. While I have only begun to use a few apps and really just scratched the surface on what we can do, I am excited to see the development in communication between students online in a mostly positive manner. 

Upon walking into the classroom, students had that wide-eyed look of amazement on their faces: “Wow, we get to have iPads in our classroom?” was a common response to seeing the device on each desk. Perhaps the best quote of the day comes from one of my more tech-savvy kids when he said (before we even began, mind you), “Are the apps we will be using available for iPhone? (to which I responded "yes”), “Good,” he says, “I’m downloading them TONIGHT." 

Wow, he didn’t even know what we were doing yet!

This students opened the computer and we used a program called Nearpod to communicate through the opening day stuff, like academic expectations, class grading, technology policies, etc. Nearpod uses .pdf versions of slide shows you create in various application to present those shows in a presenter-controlled environment. In other words, when I swipe to the next slide, the application moves all the subordinate iPads through the same screens. Within this program, Nearpod has built Polls, Quizzes, and freewrite slides that I can create to ask questions, do some assessments, and even have the students complete problems.

After presenting this material, I had the students log into Schoology, a web-based classroom management program that allows for communication via facebook-like posts and updates, assignments, gradebooks, etc. This took a little time, since the students can only enter my class using a pre-determined login code. Students had to work through the user name and password screens on the actual website; however, once they were registered, we could log in using the iPad application, which is quite robust. Students will click on links to watch videos, they will open worksheets and files as needed to work through homework (the goal is to print out essential papers only) and even work on the worksheets using UPAD Lite, a program that allows the user to write on a .pdf and save work for later use (students will email their work to themselves).

There are some hiccups in this process so far, namely the time it takes to get through the lesson and teach students how to use the applications. Most are pretty amenable to the bumps in the road. I am quite mystified by the kids who have no clue on how to use the devices. I would have thought there were maybe one or two, but I’d say there are about 10 students (out of 50) who really need help walking through the device. In fact, there is one particular student who has an obvious aversion and lack of understanding of technology as a whole. I believe they will all be quite happy using the iPads soon enough; most are simply still in that "deer in the headlights” mode at the beginning of the school year.

Tomorrow is the first quiz. We will take the quiz on the iPads. I am really looking forward to seeing how they deal with it. There is one problem that will require a sheet of paper to show work, but otherwise, I think this quiz is pretty straightforward. I am sure I will have a post coming to talk about this quiz later this weekend.

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