So I decided to have my AP and regular English classes write a paper on the iPad, just to have an idea of how/if it could be done. (Answer: it can. Footnote: it’s not perfect. Yet.)
Though initially I wanted to use Pages, I decided (with Jenny’s help) that Drive was going to be a much better option for our students. Since the iPads are shared between four classes, and since the students can’t take them home, Drive would enable students who needed a little more time to process their thoughts to work on their writing at home or in a computer lab.
My AP students researched various sides of a political issue and wrote me a “position” paper, modeled after online sources like BuzzFeed and Huffington Post…which meant instead of a traditional works cited page, they linked their sources directly into the paper. I LOVED that element of this assignment, but linking on an iPad is clunky and I suspect most of my students did their linking on a desktop.
This was a new assignment in my AP class, so I had no previous models to share with them, but I did something with them that I really don’t do in AP–gave them class time to complete it. I’ve assigned them take-home papers to write, but I’ve never given over class time for any work to be completed.
And that week in class, the students collaborated, read each others’ writing, asked me questions, and as has become our habit, we streamed papers through Apple TV for class revisions. Greg Boettger, our district’s Director of Technology happened to drop by during that last activity and saw first-hand how students responded to their writing (randomly chosen, I might add) on display for the class to revise. (Excellent timing, Mr. Boettger!)
What I have to remember when my students complain about not being familiar with the iPads (which, granted, is happening less and less):
- They are only using them 47 minutes a day–and sometimes not even every day.
- We are fond of our cages, such as traditional keyboards or software or operating systems.
- Change is not always easy.
These three bullet points are mantras to me when I feel like I’m failing at implementing the iPads in my classroom. I’m probably doing just fine.
Later this week: the report from my regular English class paper.