I’m back. I apologize for my long absence. The past year was overwhelmingly busy and fraught with major changes, so something had to give. I thank those of you who have continued to check in and comment. It means a lot to me, and I promise that I will make every effort to show up here more often. (that’s a weakling way of saying I’ll try to write at least once a week, but I don’t want to fail, so I just say “more often.”)
The thing I’m thinking about today is how I will make my new classroom set of iPads part of how I teach. This year will be my 22nd year in the classroom, and with my students, I’ve adapted to lots of new things in that time. Apart from coming to middle school from high school, I think that teaching with iPads might be my biggest adaptation yet. For part of last year I shared a set with my daughter who teaches next door to me, so I’ve pretty much figured out the handing out and collecting procedures. I came up with a contract for kids and parents to sign, and a list of procedures for teachers to follow when they introduce the iPads to the students. That all went really well, and the kids were, all in all, very respectful of the devices. (Like they had any other choice if they ever wanted to touch one again!)
However, without wifi in our classrooms, there wasn’t a whole lot we could do with them. We tried doing some dialogs with the “Sock Puppet” app. That was fun, but quickly exhausted, and I tried using a verb conjugation app with my Spanish class, but the free version only showed about ten verbs, so proved to be useless as well. The kids loved taking goofy pictures of one another, but that got old after about three minutes, for me at least. We’ve been promised wifi this year, and I am expecting it is being installed at this very moment. I hope I’m not completely daft in making that assumption.
At the end of last year I received a cart of thirty iPads for use in my classroom alone. I managed to convince the powers that be that using one Macbook to manage all the iPads in the school was not really as economical as it sounded, so we will be managing our own, putting on only the apps we feel we need. We will be able to purchase apps and even books if we want to.
So, although the above accomplishments may not seem like much, they actually are a good place to begin. Anytime you have new technology everyone is a little uneasy about it at first, often feeling the need to exert control over every aspect of it. I get that, because that’s how I feel about my particular set of iPads.
Now my quest is to choose just the right apps and make a plan for fitting them into my routine. Last year I went to one of those all day seminars about using iPads in the classroom, and I downloaded all the apps they recommended to my personal device. I also participated in a series of iPad meetings with our local Writing Project site. It was really helpful to be able to hear what others were trying. Anytime one of my colleagues in that program mentioned an app that worked well for them I downloaded, because I want to try them out before foisting them on my class. Part of my job in the next couple of weeks is to try out all those apps and see how they might work to support the way I already teach, and then learning how to download them to our two iPad carts. I’m going to be thinking about this, and will be back with further thoughts and ideas as I go. If you have any ideas that might help me, I’d love to hear them!