A new school year is underway and our district will have a lot of exciting things happening this year. Several classrooms will be provided with a classroom cart of iPad minis or Google Chromebooks. This will give us a chance to see which devices will work the most effectively with instruction in different subject areas and grade levels.
My focus will be working with our classrooms in grades 7-12 involved with this initiative. All six of our science teachers at the Middle School and one classroom at the High School will have an iPad mini cart. Google Chromebooks will be deployed in a 7th grade English class and a High School Physics / Chemistry classroom.
Things are going well after the first month of school. The iPads have taken a little bit more to set up and configure before deployment, since we are using the Apple Configurator along with the LightSpeed MDM for managing the devices. Our teachers and students are getting their feet wet as they begin integrating these devices with their instruction.
Initial uses so far:
- Using Quizlet to self check vocabulary.
- Accessing a customized digital text book created using the CK-12 Flexbook system, which aligns with our redesigned, multi-branch science curriculum in 7th and 8th grade.
- Socrative quizzes to check for student understanding during the opening or closing of a lesson.
- Posting and replying to discussion forums on Moodle.
- Creating brief audio presentations about properties of water and organism adaptations using the 30 Hands app.
- Exploring the basics of Biological chemistry using Moodle and the NOVA elements app.
- Using Google Drive to record daily learning journals and lab write ups.
- Recording observations from lab activities with photos or video.
Things are off to a good start, but there is much more work to be done. Here are the 3 priorities for change that we will pursue in the next weeks:
- Increase student writing – All of our students have Google Apps accounts. Our students need to do more and more constructed responses using Google Docs on our devices. By having the responses in Google Drive, the responses can be easily shared and commented on by the teacher and can be viewed/reviewed by the student from any device with an internet connection.
- Classroom differentiation – Right now every student in the class is doing the same thing
with the device at the same time. We need to use the technology as an efficient way to differentiate for our students in the classroom so that all students are being challenged all the time. This will require planning lessons that have 3 or 4 different routes for the students to reach the objectives.
- Assessment and feedback – There are many ways to check for student understanding using the iPads and Chromebooks. Several teachers are using Socrative for students to answer several questions during the lesson closure. Socrative can give instant feedback to the students when they answer a question, and the teacher gets a report detailing what the class answered correctly and incorrectly. These results can be used to modify the lesson for the next day, addressing any areas that the class did not grasp well. Using Google apps for Student Journals would also help students keep a running record of their learning and practice their writing skills. The teacher could view the journals, give feedback, and even share well written sections with the rest of the class.