Last week at our iPad Academy training day, Ann Feldmann told me about an activity she did during a Twitter chat using the app Book Creator. The moderator designed a series of tasks for the participants to complete, then they compiled those tasks in a book.
I’ve struggled every year with how to use the iPads in my Pop Culture Class as a creation device, but as Ann explained what she did during this chat, my mind started thinking about the Postmodernism test that my Pop Culture classes would be taking soon.
I usually have them take a traditional quiz–matching, true/false, fill in the blank–basic-level Bloom’s Taxonomy kind of quiz, as a formative assessment to make sure they know the bare minimum about Postmodernism. What would happen if I changed the quiz entirely to a more interactive, application-of-knowledge kind of quiz?
I designed five tasks for my students to complete. The tasks required a little bit of video, a little bit of writing, a little bit of Google image searching. Then, using Book Creator, the students compiled their knowledge into a book.
I’ve graded one class’s quizzes, and I’m so impressed with what they’ve done. One issue I’ve had in the past with the summative exam over this unit is that students used the same examples provided in class discussion. On this quiz, I stipulated that the examples had to be original. I haven’t been disappointed once. Their examples have been fantastic.
Also, I’ve loved watching their “selfie videos” as they explain different concepts in their own words, again with original examples.
My room during my two sections of Pop Culture Studies today was a little noisy, but as I walked around helping students, I was thrilled with what I saw.
I saw collaboration, as one of the tasks required students to ask another student to explain a concept on video. They were also often collaborating with each other on what examples would work and what examples wouldn’t.
I saw focused engagement, as they knew they only had 47 minutes to complete the quiz. Ideally, they probably needed 55 minutes–a lesson to learn for next semester. But my point is that there wasn’t down time–and when students finished before others, they helped with exporting and turning in the books.
But what impressed me the most was the quality of the questions I was getting. Most of the questions students asked me were not about the app itself, the questions were about the content. In the past when I’ve tried assessments like these, I have fielded so many questions about the app that I’ve wondered if any learning actually took place. Today, I didn’t have that same experience, which speaks to how user-friendly Book Creator is.
Today would not have happened without the iPad Academy work day last week. I rarely see Ann, and the session she ran about infusing creativity in the classroom led directly to today’s lesson plan. I had the gift of time to look at quizzes I’ve used in the past and wrote a new quiz that relied so much more on application and synthesis of knowledge than just basic recall.
In a time when public schools are under more and more scrutiny for all the things they are doing wrong, it’s important the share the stories of when they do something right. And that’s exactly how I feel about iPad Academy.