Tuesday, January 14, 2014

iPads, Start to Finish

I read a discussion somewhere fairly recently (I wish I could remember where so I could give them credit!) of using the iPads not just for one isolated part of a lesson, but for the entire lesson, start to finish. I have actually used the iPads for almost the entire class a handful of times, but never for the entire time. Most of the time, I do just use them for one part of the lesson.

Unintentionally, today I did just that. I didn't think about it until after class was over, but it actually got me excited! (I know...I'm sooo geeky!) I started out class with the students signing in to Showbie to access the Do Now. There were two versions of the Do Now in the assignment folder which they could choose from. Then after a quick review on the Smart Board, I had them open Explain Everything, not to use it as we usually do for screencasting, but just to use as a whiteboard to solve practice problems, instead of passing out the physical personal whiteboards, markers, and erasers. Then I introduced the app-smashing project they were going to do by using Reflector to project my iPad on the Smart Board. 

Our topic today was a review of exponents, but squares and cubes specifically. I wanted them to make a connection between "the little number up in the air" (translation: exponent) and the real-life applications of squares and cubes. The project involved using 3 different apps, then submitting their work to the 4th app, Showbie. With the first app, Hands-On Color Tiles, they created 3 to 4 squares and took a screenshot to save it to the camera roll. With the second app, Think 3D Free, they created 2 different cubes and shared them to the camera roll as well. In the third app, Skitch, they annotated on their photos they had just created to show the dimensions of the figures and express them with exponents, then share it to the camera roll. Then they went into Showbie and added their files to their folders to submit their work to me.

I absolutely love the idea of utilizing the iPads for the entire lesson! Besides the benefit of being paperless, it just seems to flow so much better between activities because everything the students need is right at their fingertips, literally, in the iPads. And to the students, anything you do on the iPads is fun!

Having 1-to-1 iPads would make this concept of iPads start to finish much more of a daily routine in my classroom. Our building has 3 carts of 30 iPads, not 1-to-1, but most days I am able to get one of the carts, so I am going to focus on trying to do this on a regular basis. One drawback of the shared carts and not having 1-to-1 is that when students start a project on one day and need to finish it the next day, we have to ensure that they get the exact same iPad. This is frustrating when the class that has used the iPads before us doesn't put the iPads back in their proper slots in the cart. It becomes a scavenger hunt to find the right iPad for each student, which takes up valuable class time each day. Ugh!

One part of the lesson I haven't attempted on the iPads is notetaking. I would love to hear from someone that is not in a 1-to-1 situation but uses the iPads for students to take notes. Do you use Evernote, Notability, or some other app? Does each student need to have their own account? 

I would also love to hear from others who use the iPads start to finish on a daily basis. How is that working out for you? What types of problems do you encounter? What are the benefits you see from this?

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