It’s been too long since I blogged here, mostly because I am in the haze of the school musical, a time of year where absolutely everything in my life but the musical suffers a little bit. I love being part of the school musicals for two main reasons: first, it sharpens my piano skills, and second, it redeems my faith in what students can do.
But one of the things to be on the back burner the past two weeks as rehearsals have ramped up is using the iPads for more than just a replacement for making copies. And don’t get me wrong–I totally love throwing links on my class website instead of handing out paper after paper. But I know I should be pushing myself–and my students–to do more.
So this week while my English 11 class watched A Raisin in the Sun (we read the play in class), I retyped their test over the play into a Google form. I figured I’d try a test on the iPad once, and if it bombed, then I had data to show that tests on the iPad weren’t a good idea.
Once all the tests were submitted, me and Jenny asked the students their thoughts. I was shocked to hear that they loved it. Students who struggle with going back and forth between a paper test and a Scantron especially loved having all the answers right there. No one needed a pencil. No one had to get up during class and sharpen a pencil (which really can be distracting to some students). And of course, I loved that using Flubaroo, the test was graded in a fraction of a second, and results emailed to students just as fast.
About 30 minutes later, just as I was starting some class/peer revisions with my English AP class, Greg Boettger–our Director of Technology–stopped by. He asked the students for some informal feedback on how the iPads were working, and then he just observed as students streamed their writing from their iPads to the Apple TV. What I loved most about this exercise is that it wasn’t necessarily about the technology–it was about how the students responded to each others’ work, commenting on diction, tone, and syntax. The iPad/Apple TV combo just made it much more feasible and effective.
The musical closes Saturday, and life will settle back into a more normal routine, and I’m hoping to take more risks 4th quarter. My AP class will turn in a paper this weekend written mostly on the iPad. Tomorrow, my English 11 class will start writing a paper on the iPad. My Pop Culture classes will research music genres and have a backchannel on the iPad. More to come…