The iPad – A Device To…
Despite Steve Jobs having declared the iPad as a device for consuming media, students at Zeeland Public Schools (ZPS) continue to create engaging papers, presentations and multi-media products to demonstrate their deep understanding of the curriculum. Pic Collage, Story Creator, Corkulous, Scribble Press, Videolicious, Educreations, Evernote, Haiku Deck, and iMotion HD are just a small sampling of the amazing apps students at every grade level are using to synthesize their understanding.
Not only are students creating on the iPad, but teachers are generating their own products for their classes to consume. Apple’s iBooks Author enables educators to create immersive textbooks filled with interactive content that is tailored to meet the specific needs of their students. Similarly, there’s no more skipping around through bulky, one-dimensional textbooks to cover appropriate material for one’s class. Now learners have just the necessary text, images, embedded videos, interactive graphics, and mini-quizzes to check for understanding, all in one digital book. A number of our teachers have begun using iTunes U as a course management system. The simple design affords an elegant means for delivering course content and assignments that help keep even the most disorganized students on track with due dates.
Collaboration and communication go hand-in-hand, and the 1:1 technology initiative at ZPS fosters these skills. E-mail and messaging are decidedly the most common forms of digital communication that have bridged the gap between students and their teachers. During class time, students can demonstrate their understanding, or lack thereof, through such Web 2.0 resources as Socrative.com, PollEverywhere.com, and Nearpod. All of these innovative resources enable students to immediately communicate their understanding of what’s being taught, thereby allowing teachers to know if re-teaching is required and with whom. Also, Google Drive and Dropbox make for seamless, cloud-based sharing of content among students and teachers alike. Indeed, increased communication via the iPad has vastly improved collaboration with instructors and learners.
Metacognition and critical thinking reach new heights as our teachers challenge learners to evaluate their own work, that of their peers, and even that of people in other countries. Analyzing blog posts using Kidblog.org; evaluating articles found on such apps as Zite, Readability, and Flipboard; and researching in the academics-friendly search engine space of instaGrok.com, all make for 21st Century resources that engage higher order thinking. Our teachers actively seek out and model how to use resources that help their students develop creative problem solving skills, guiding them to be life-long learners.