Friday, April 4, 2014

Using iPads to Differentiate Instruction and Foster Collaboration

Today, during the English class that I co-teach with Mike Ivanoski, I was reminded of the power of the iPad.  We are just starting To Kill A Mockingbird and were reading the first chapters of the novel aloud in class.  At the start of class, six students volunteered to take notes on specific characters and themes during the reading of the novel by our guest lecturer, Jody Horan.  Some of the note takers chose to write with pencil and paper, others on their iPads.  At the end of the class, students shared their notes via Google Docs and I took pictures of the handwritten notes. Next, I posted all of the notes to our iTunes U course so that ALL students could access them when they fill out their study guides. 

Having access to iPads made it easy to differentiate today’s lesson.  Students who are capable of taking notes and listening to the novel at the same time were able to practice that skill. Their efforts supported peers who struggle to divide their attention between the two tasks as they were able to focus on the reading without the anxiety of trying to keep up with note taking. This was also an opportunity to reinforce the sense of community that we have tried to foster in our classroom. All students will have access to the character/theme notes via iTunes U as a resource when they fill out their individual study guides regardless of their abilities to take notes.

It is easy to take having the iPads for granted as they have become ingrained in the teaching and learning in 8th grade.  Today’s lesson reminded me, once again, of how learning can be transformed through thoughtful use of technology.

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