A great article. I appreciated the simple and realistic solutions the author came up with. Here’s an excerpt:
Now consider what you usually read about the classroom of the future: picture huge, multipurpose spaces that allow for seminar areas, group work using a projector for feeding back to others, private work areas and an area for IT use. How many schools do you know that have classrooms with this amount of space? Perhaps if we were building a school from scratch then this is the type of room you would make, but most of us are not starting over, we’re trying to reinvent with what we’ve already got – small classrooms on long corridors and class sizes we can’t do a huge amount about.
So there’s no magic wand to make the walls we’ve got disappear and the students contained within those walls to diminish to a number that we feel comfortable with, but, by utilizing technology in the right way, the dynamics of the classroom could be radically changed for the better.
Sometimes, however, teachers need to have a conversation with parents that goes a bit deeper than upcoming due dates. For these calls, it is helpful to remember that the positive phone call is as important as the negative one. I have a colleague who sends positive e-mails to her students who impress her or are just pleasant human beings, and she always CC’s the parents. Building this positive context goes a long way if problems arise later on.
To keep track of these interactions as well as the student behavior that prompts them, I highly recommend Dash4Teachers. There really isn’t anything quite like it out there.
You can tap smiles or frowns for each day, jot down notes like “asked great questions!” or “was terribly disruptive,” and then tap “Call best contact.” You then select options like “Call completed” or “Left a message.” My favorite feature is the ability to sort by least recent calls, most frequent calls, and positive or negative. The more students we have, the more possible it is for one to “slip through the cracks.” Using this intuitive and simple app goes a long way to ensuring we’re helping all of our students.
3. GO ON VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS Most students and schools cannot afford to take a field trip to another country. However, Monica Mitchell, a fifth-grade teacher at Albert Harris Elementary in Martinsville, Virginia, took her class on virtual field trips to the Royal Navy Museum in Portsmouth, England and Yellowstone National Park using the Skype app for the iPad. Mitchell projected the tour of the Royal Navy Museum onto the SmartBoard in her classroom where students were able to interact with the museum guide and ask questions.
5. PROVIDE INTERACTION WITH MATH AND PHYSICS CONCEPTS Chris Williams, the Mathematics Co-ordinator at Spring Cottage Primary School in Hull, England, has a list of ten interactive iPad apps that helped him teach math to his students. Red Bull Kart Fighter, a track racing game, helped teach students how to calculate averages. International Snooker was used to help students solve problems such as, how many ways are there to score a set amount of points? Angry Birds, a catapult game with high scores, was used to help teach students how to order and partition large numbers. Similarly, John Burk, a ninth-grade physics teacher at Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia, used Angry Birds to teach students constant velocity and constant acceleration.
6. NURTURE CREATIVITY WITH STORYTELLING PLATFORMS Educators at Ringwood North Primary School in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, created the Epic Citadel Challenge to foster storytelling, creative collaboration and individual initiative. Students used their experiences in the virtual landscape to tell a story in the medium of their choosing.
I actually didn’t care for this article, because the arguments are all superficial and could apply to any smaller tablet. The best argument in the whole thing wasn’t actually part of the five reasons, but a snippet from the second paragraph:
At present, the lack an iTunes U competitor from Google or Microsoft means that the iPad is the only real choice if you are thinking about either providing or requiring tablets for your institution, school, or program.
I’d also say the fact that there are currently over 4,000 different Android devices out there, all running different versions of the Android OS is one of the best arguments to go with something like the iPad Mini. The only choice you have to make there is what size you want and if it comes with a cellular antenna. And the OS is historically guaranteed to be supported for at least the next three years.