Sunday, October 28, 2012

Classroom Management, PD and How do we use these things to help kids learn?!

A few weeks ago, I bookmarked an interesting article in edudemic called 5 Critical Mistakes Schools Make With iPads (And How To Correct Them). To summarize, the five were (1) focusing on content only (and not being able to see that you could use showme in Math, for instance), (2) lack of teacher prep in classroom management, (3) expecting the iPad to be like a laptop, (4) treating iPads like a multi-user device and (5) failure to communicate a compelling answer to "why iPads?"

I will come back to 4 and 5 in future posts, but for now I want to focus on number two, lack of teacher preparation in classroom management of iPads.

I think we sometimes assume that because the Apple user interface is generally so smooth and intuitive that it should be simple to integrate the devices into our classroom practice. In our school district, we have adopted a pilot/academy model (discussed in previous posts and to the point of number 4 above). One of the outputs of our academy members is to document best practices in the classroom, so that as more teachers adopt this technology, they won't be starting at zero like we did. We started a wiki to help ourselves and other teachers not only by making app suggestions but by addressing issues such as synching our iPads with the cart, to use or not use Apple Configurator, classroom iPad rules and even how to velcro iPads to the cases!

However, the issue raised in the 5 Mistakes article is not so much the practical management of iPads, which we are addressing, but also the more pedagogical issue of how to incorporate these devices into the learning process.
Decades of research has shown that when teachers have access to new technologies, their instinct is to use new technologies to extend existing practices. 
Without guidance, iPads become expensive notebooks used by students in very traditionally structured stand-and-deliver classrooms. Teachers need time for professional collaboration (and often external support) to learn to nurture reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills and to develop strategies to differentiate instruction using a range of apps and tablet-friendly Web tools.

Clearly, we have more work to do!