May 13, 2011


Testing season has come and gone for most of our students with the NYS Math Exam ending yesterday. 8th graders still have their Science and Math Regents exams coming up, but 6th and 7th graders are done with their testing. It's been nice to see and feel the collective sigh of relief the day after.

As an 8th grade teacher, my students have been working pretty hard on preparing for the Science Exam. In math and ELA, they've been building their portfolios and preparing for end of year procedures. We still use the technology in class for various reasons- practicing skills on iXL and using apps to achieve their IEP and graduation goals. As we get closer to the finish line and wrap up the year, I look forward to giving my kids the challenge of leaving a legacy for future classes- a message on the best ways to use the ipad in and out of class. The good news is that most of the class is very familiar with the iPad and can easily do this. The bad news is that most if the class is rather camera shy. We'll see which one wins out.

As a dean, the iPad has still been invaluable. For the past couple of weeks I have been out of my classroom/office and running an Intervention Room for 8th graders who needed Herculean efforts to achieve passing grades. Each student would come down daily with the task of completing past and extra assignments and test prep to achieve high enough marks to get a passing average for the year. Using the iPad as my hub, I was able to keep students up to date on what work they completed needed to complete and provide live updates on averages. I was able to pull all information they needed for various websites such as Prezi or iXL with the touch of a finger. For the students who took to the intervention and came focused to attempt to pass, the iPad was their tool to keep track of their progress. It even helped them when I was able to use the iPad to maintain control of the students who refused to take advantage of the opportunity before them. Sometimes it was by using LiveProfile to immediately reach out to those upstairs to contact homes and parents. Other times, I used it to keep chatty students occupied while I conducted small group instruction with a different section.

That group ends today and I look forward to returning to lunch with the iPad. Until I began working in the Intervention room, I didn't realize how much I enjoyed using the iPads with Teheran students. Whether it was playing the games with them or talking with them while they played games like AngryBirds, NBA Jam, or PengAireborne, something about the iPad allows our students to open up and talk about anything. One of our Social Workers Mark Walters wrote about this in his blog post insert mark walkers blog post link. It'll be nice to reconnect with our students.

I'm also looking forward to an upgrade. This month, I will be one of the staff members piloting the use of the iPad 2. I actually haven't seen or used the second version of it yet so I'm not sure what new things we can do with it just yet. But I have some ideas that would be incredible to have work for our students. A confluence of events led me to look forward to one idea that has me really excited. The first was that i recently got a new 4G phone with Facetime and have been loving video chatting with people far away that rarely get to see. Second, about a month ago a friend and were in my house watching some NBA basketball and shooting the breeze. He was really excited because he had just discovered that phone upgrade would allow him to create a mobile WiFi hotspot. And since he didn't have the 3G iPad this fixed his internet on the go issue. All his problems were fixed. As he was showing me how it worked, the commercial with the two classes video chatting came on. I love that commercial just because I've always believed kids learn more when they are exposed to new things and when they are learning from another kid. Eureka! The iPad2 can be our vehicle to connect across the nation, continent and globe. Just a thought....we will soon find out if we can make it happen.

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