January 13, 2011

Researching the iPad Effect & A Plan for 100% Usage

After reading some posts on the blog (along with some strongly worded comments), I thought seriously about how I could quantify the iPad's effectiveness in the classroom. So far, I would estimate that about half of my students have been able to use the technology in some shape, way, or form. However, I have collected only qualitative data in the form of observations to back up the claim that the iPads are, in fact, helping my students achieve in the classroom. No matter how many success stories I have:

1. Pooja, a level 1 student who struggles with math facts, was able to conceptualize surface area and volume using images (wrapping a present, filling an aquarium with water) we searched on the internet.

2. Steven, a level 2 student who has confessed to disliking the subject, has completed more class work (and homework) in the last few weeks since I have offered him the chance to use the iPad as a calculator, a reference tool, and an anchor activity (flashcard, games, puzzles).

3. Charly, a high 3 student who has already seen some of the 7th grade material in Specialized HS, can access more challenging problems whether on the internet or through different apps.

I know, as a numbers guy myself and the fact that we live in a data driven world, that a lot of people will find that this is not enough to demonstrate "success". So, with the beginning of our 3rd marking period, I have decided to conduct a little experiment to see whether the iPads do, in fact, help student achievement in our mathematics classroom.

I will divide both of my sections (704 & 705) into two groups: iPad users vs. non-iPad users. The iPad users will have an iPad available to them during the independent/group work portion of the class when they are practicing the concept and/or skill taught during the mini-lesson.

I will administer a pre-test and a post-test, find the average increase in performance for each group, and then compare each group's performance to see what effect the iPad had (if any). I plan on doing this for two different topics: square roots and then pythagorean theorem, over the course of 15-20 instructional days. As a way to ensure that there is 100% usage in both my classes, I will switch iPad usage from one group to the other after we have completed the square roots chapter.

Since this is my first attempt at researching the iPad's effectiveness in the classroom, I welcome any and all suggestions. Come on back and see how the kids perform.

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