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October 2014

iPads Above and Beyond: Meeting the Needs of all Students

iPads Above and Beyond: Meeting the Needs of all Students Part 3 of 3

 

Every child is uniquely different and each student has unique learning needs and a unique style of learning.  The use of the iPad in the classroom provides the teacher an advantage in helping to meet the learning needs of all students in his/her classroom. 

Without any added expense utilizing the accessibility options in the settings options of the device will help teachers meet the needs of students with special needs.  The great advantage to this is that the child with vision or hearing impairments for example no longer needs to be centred out with special devices and tools to meet their needs.  Read aloud options and voice recognition apps assist students with learning disabilities to still be able to learn and complete their tasks independently. 

The iPads also allow students multiple ways to be creative and to share their work and knowledge with others.  No longer is a project completed in a booklet form or on a backboard only for a teacher audience.  Students are no longer limited to written words to express their ideas.  There are now choices and creative options.  For example after reading a book students can post a book review for family and classmates to read using an app like Kidblog, create a commercial or trailer using iMovie, they can use Prezi or Keynote to  make a presentation to share, word clouds and mind maps can easily being used as a character study, or to examine themes.  In our media rich and social media culture providing these students with these creative options is another avenue of equipping them with potential skills they will eventually need in the workforce.  

Finally, the iPads really do allow for ease of differentiated instruction.  Students can be using the same app for reading or math but be working at their own pace without anyone else knowing except for the teacher the level of learning they are at.  If students need help with a particular concept they can spend more time working on it and can easily access online videos and tutorial that may help explain it in a new or different way that clicks for them.  I used to have a fear that if I moved an advanced student up and give them more advanced work that I would run out of work pages or lessons for them.  This fear is now long gone with multiple of options available.   Competition and instant feedback are found on many apps both of which are significant factors in helping students to stay on task and motivated.

The use of iPads in the classroom helps all students to learn, grow, and explore based on their own strengths, interests, and abilities. Students no longer have to fit in a one size fits all mold to be successful in school and that I believe is one of the greatest advantages of the use of technology advancements such as iPads  in our schools and classrooms.

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iPads Above and Beyond the Students

Benefits Above and Beyond the Students: Part 2 of 3

As administrator I have to worry about budgets, schedules, management and logistics.  I also recognize my responsibility to be a good steward of the resources and equipment that our school has been blessed with.   From that perspective the implementation of the iPads has definitely been a win/win situation.

From a time management perspective and making effective use of precious classroom time the iPads have the definite advantage.  Prior to their use students were lined up, walked down the hallway to the computer lab at the opposite end of the school and would sit down waiting for their machines to boot up.  This old way of doing things easily lost 5- 10 minutes of time in a typical 40 minute period.  Students were forced to use the same machine every time to ensure they had access to their previously saved file.  The computers were not always reliable (often buggy) and students would sometimes have to go a different machine meaning that they would be starting a previously started assignment from scratch.    Those students who required extra time to complete a project would have to use the computer lab at lunch under teacher supervision to complete their assignment. 

With the iPads the devices can stay in the back of the classroom so they are readily available. Students simply have to open the cover and they are ready to go.  This easily allows for students to be working at different activities and different paces all at the same time.  This efficiency and flexibility is a definite advantage for differentiated instruction and a multi-grade classroom.

Financially, when compared to the costs of having desk top machines the iPads are an affordable option. Not only are the devices more cost effective to purchase there is also ongoing savings in hydro expenses, and the expense of the multiple software licences that needed to be purchased in the past.  They are many apps that are free to use and even the ones that come at a cost are reasonable compared to licensing and purchasing of software previously required. This is especially a cost saving since as a private school we did not have access to Ontario wide public education site and licenses for programs.  Through the use of iBooks no longer is it necessary to order a class set of novels or textbooks.  Recently looking at new text books options there was the choice between the $35 hardcover or the $10 e-book edition, the cost savings continues. 

The efficiency, flexibility and cost effectiveness of the iPads definitely make them viable option for administrators making the decision for the best technology options for their school.

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iPads Above and Beyond

Roots and Wings Going Above and Beyond: Part 1 of 3

A year ago we started meeting as a Technology Advancement committee to decide how we move forward in using technology to provide the best educational experience for our students. I have to admit that I was the skeptical one when we were considering moving to iPads.  I read lots of reviews online and as with most things there were reviews and blogs both for and against. After further research the decision was made to purchase iPads and after a generous donation, the school penny drive, and our hot lunch program all expenses were covered. 

Now, one year in to using our iPads in the classroom and I am totally convinced of their benefit.  I know that we have not reached near the full potential of these devices but with the little that we have tapped into they are invaluable.  A dictionary, atlas, encyclopedia, thesaurus, calculator, camera, video camera are all in this one small device and so much more.  The devices are equally beneficial for creating as they are consuming.

With so much information instantly accessible there are a new set of learning skills for this new generation.  As we move ahead education is no longer just about the 3 Rís or reading, writing and arithmetic, they now also include the 4 cís of collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking.  As we develop these skills within our students we are helping them to not only develop basic lifelong skills we are equipping them to go above and beyond. As a Christian school we also have the responsible to ensure that as our students have wings that they also have well established roots in their faith and in their understanding of God and his world.    Ultimately if we provide our students with roots and wings we are enabling them to go above and beyond, be agents of change and to truly meet their full God-given potential.

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