Teaching and Learning With iPads

The model identifies four primary pieces of teaching.  Let’s face it this is how we should design our classroom anyway, but with the use of technology we can further enhance it.  Now, not all students have 1:1 devices and are fortunate enough to have the ease of learning this way.  In fact, there are many schools and districts that have a hard time connecting to the Internet, and yes,we just started 2021.  Now just because this article is about iPads does not mean that other devices could not work.  So, let’s be honest with ourselves these four tips are for anyone using technology to teach our students.

1. Content

This is the “what” students are learning.
Guiding questions to ponder and ask yourself: How does the iPad or device support access to content? How can the iPad or device improve existing access: more immediate access, mobile access, personalized access? Access to higher-quality content? More authentic? More diverse content forms?  These are all great questions to think about as you pull together resources for your content.  Due to the pandemic many if not all of you are just thinking what do my students need to know this year.  How can I get my students through this school year without having a gaping learning loss?  So essentially, you might have or had to throw out what you wanted to do this year in order for you and your students to survive.

2. Activities

This is the “how” students will learn.
Guiding questions to ponder and ask yourself: What kinds of activities do the iPad or device naturally ‘suggest’ or support that help students learn the content? How can the iPad or device be used to improve the quality, depth, differentiation, or diversity of those activities?  This has been hard this school year with many schools going full remote.  We understand that the normal activities that we wanted to do in class are well not what we are doing right now.  Students might have a difficult time at home with Internet issues, can’t access the apps, can’t understand how to work the app, etc.  Once again, it is survival mode, how can we get through the next few months working with what we have now.  Oh, and don’t forget that as of December 31st, flash is no longer available on the iPads, so well some of these activities might now work next week.

3. Assessment 

How you’ll measure how the students did on the lesson and as conversely, how the lesson ‘did’ on the student.

Guiding questions to ponder and ask yourself: How can the iPad or device make assessing student understanding more accurate and/or efficient? How can it promote a broader set of evidence of that understanding? How can it promote the assessment of higher-order thinking skills?  There are several ways to accomplish this one.  I personally like to have students apply what they learned to a project-based assessment.  I like to have them create a video, comic strip, slideshow as opposed to them just filling out a worksheet.  By having them create a project allows for other parts of the brain to take over and to truly show what they have learned or not learned.

4. Personal

This is where the iPad or device is used to personalize the learning for the student–whether through content, activities, assessment, sequence, content depth and mastery, or other factors.

Guiding question to ponder and ask yourself: How can an iPad or device automate the use of assessment data to personalize instruction?

Between Activities and Assessment is the act of Sending & Receiving, which implies and back and forth exchange between lessons and assessment data, something apps like Schoology and Google Classroom are designed to support in great detail.  There are many other apps out there that do these same things as well, find one or two that work best for you and your students.