When a school goes 1:1 with iPads, or any other device, it can feel like it happened overnight even if the reality is quite the opposite. In fact, it can be compared to the experience of a first year teacher who learned all sorts of good techniques for magic in the classroom, but then reality sets in on day two or three. No matter how much time educators are given to research, plan, and explore projects and cool apps, it's never enough. That's good and bad. As education professionals, we are lifelong learners by default so we are thirsty for new challenges (Get on board, if you're cruising. It's never too late to make positive change! Wait, you're reading my post. I'm preaching to the choir...) It doesn't feel cool, though, to put so much time in what we think is great preparation only to find out that our efforts don't always produce the best (or, sometimes, most effective) outcomes. C'est la vie, non?
Here's a prime example. I did tons of research during the summer before the iPads debuted in the classroom, throughout the year, and then again during the summer after that initial year. Guess what. It's been 1.5 years since iPads were distributed to everyone, and it's only been in the past month that I have realized the power of interactive whiteboard applications. This is due, in part, to the fact that it was completely overwhelming to revolutionize the way we utilized our learning space. As it is the case with most examples of change, I found a meaningful purpose for this app in my unique learning environment at the moment that inspiration hit me. Just as new teachers discover ways to effectively use class time as they make their way through the first years in the profession, I have been reliving that feeling, in a sense, as I discover ways to enhance the learning experience without making tablets seem like fluffy, entertainment contraptions. It has been so exciting!
My most recent inspiring moment occurred after a refreshing, mini brain break in December. Imagine that?! I started thinking that it would make sense to ask students to record and submit their presentations electronically from time to time since it takes up so much precious class time for each student to present en direct. As a result, I installed the ShowMe app, made a demo, and, finally, introduced it to my learners a few weeks ago. (I chose it because it's free, which allows me to avoid asking parents to make any more purchases at this point in the year.)
In the future, I will ask students to publish their work (rather than submit it to me directly.) Then, I will ask them to pick several presentations to watch while completing a follow-up task. In the meantime, here are some examples of student use of the interactive whiteboard app:
French - Level Two (Novice)
To begin a unit on travel and exploration, learners were asked to choose a research topic and ascertain interesting facts about Sénégal, a Francophone African nation. They used the app of their choice to first post photos that would illustrate their research. Then, they moved it to the ShowMe app where they recorded their presentations in French. (They could use one note card with a list of key words.)
http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=VsipbLk (Keep watching. Her photos appear around 25 seconds in.)
http://www.showme.com/sh/?h=PTXSO7U (Lesson learned: Make sure students take a screenshot of the presentation view of their photos.)
French - Level One (Novice)
In the middle of a unit on communities, learners shared their personal thoughts on local seasons/weather and what s/he likes to do. Students used the Popplet app ($4.99) to create a mind map of their ideas and then transferred them to the ShowMe app where they recorded their presentations.
How do you (or would you) enhance learning with interactive whiteboard apps? Please share your ideas in the comments below.