Friday, August 12, 2011

iPads in Education

Through the years, certain things have made their way into the classroom that have looked really cool, but in reality may not have been the best idea.  One year, a parent donated some prize box rewards for my classroom and I was very grateful. I was, however, taken aback when I realized that some of the rewards were brand new, classroom-targeted, fruit-scented glue sticks.  I was always told from a young age, "Don't sniff glue", and had to rethink that particular reward. Not everything new has a place in our classrooms.

The iPad also provides a reason to have that discussion. The money spent on an iPad just to be a centers-station reward game just isn't worth it to me. However, there are certain populations and innovative teachers in our schools that give great value to iPads and other mobile media devices.  In a July article in The Transforming Education Through Technology Journal, Peter Levy shared experiences from teachers about how their use of iPads made dramatic differences in their classroom instruction.

We don't, however, have to look past our district to find innovative teachers who are using iPads in authentic and powerful ways. I had the honor of assisting Lora Netherland, a Life Skills teacher at Clayton Elementary, as she presented her experiences to a crowd of teachers during the 2011 Texas Computer Educators Association conference.  She uses her iPad in various ways to help non-vocal students communicate and students with limited motor skills show understanding of concepts. Her video records show an amazing growth in skill and confidence in some of her students. The ease of use and multitude of specialized software available for the iPad provided great support for Netherland's already masterful teaching in the classroom.

How have you seen iPads being used in innovated or effective and authentic ways in the classroom?  What other mobile devices have you seen to be effective in ways that computers couldn't do as well?

There will be ongoing posts about the use of mobile technology in our district. Please share your experiences as we take that journey.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to school for the 2011-2012 school year! Many things have grown on our AISD Technology tree this summer and the fruit is being picked from our trees.  Over the next few weeks, teachers and students will learn about some amazing new tools and opportunities for using technology in meaningful and authentic ways for teaching and learning.

We hope you find this blog a useful tool for learning more about district initiatives, tips for using your AISD technology effectively in the classroom, and also for learning about ways to use other technology resources with our provided set of tools.  As you follow along with us, please use the comments on each blog to discuss the topic shared or to request topics for future blog posts.

As we post things that you may find useful, we encourage you to share the posts with colleagues inside and outside of the district. The larger this community builds, the more ideas we have to draw from and the more rich our instruction can be for our students.

Have a great year!